Wrong Speed Records all dayer @ The Strongroom.

Saturday 8 October 2022 – London.

Wrong Speed Records is a small and vital record label created by Joe Thompson, bass player with Hey Colossus and Henry Blacker, during the early Covid lockdowns. The label is the centre of the Hey Colossus multiverse, with most of the (at the time of writing) 38 releases on the label coming from bands associated with current or ex-members of the band, and there are quite a few of those. I don’t own all those records but I have at least one by all the bands playing today, or I do now as I picked up the Gum Takes Tooth record from the merch stand after the show.

Today was the Wrong Speed Records all-day gig at The Strongroom bar in Shoreditch. Six bands, five on Wrong Speed Records and one (Gum Takes Tooth) about to be, all for the amazing price of zero pounds; yes it was free. Fantastic, and such a good line up as well.

The first band was on at 3:30 and I arrived just before The Mute Servants hit the stage, meeting Sean, a Walthamstow friend at the venue. The Mute Servants are a two piece formed around the songs of one of Hey Colossus’ three guitarists. The songs were short, sharp and fun, nothing over two minutes in length; garage punk at its finest. They did (at least) two covers, The Breeders ‘Do you love me now’ and The Fall’s ‘Industrial Estate’. It was a great start to the day.

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The Strongroom is not a bad venue, I’m not sure if hosts a lot of bands, but it is well set up for them, with a couple of bars, a huge outdoor space with loads of seating and a gig room that would hold a couple of hundred; it seemed really well air-conditioned as well which I appreciated. The one downside for day time bands was the glass fire exit doors letting in too much background light which made it hard to take photos of the musicians on a very dimly lit stage. I had a lot of trouble getting images of the next band. Shooting was hard for all the bands with my ancient beast of a camera, the light was very dim and mostly a horrible red or even more horrible blue.

Haress (prounced hairs) were second on, and the band I was most looking forward to seeing, and they didn’t disappoint; not that any of the bands did. Another of the Hey Colossus guitarists plays guitar in Haress.

Haress play a very quiet gentle gothic country, slow mournful tunes, that build slowly to a gentle peak, I play their records a lot while I work. They all play their instruments while seated, which sort of reflects the vibe of their music. There was even a sing-along with handed out lyric sheets for one of their songs.

I thought they were great and my photos didn’t do them justice, I would have loved to have been on the other side of the stage but someone else was taking pictures there and it seems a bit weird having the only two people taking photos standing in the same place.

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Thee Alcoholics were the third band of the day and the third band of the day without a bass player. Definitely the heaviest band so far (it gets heavier), a grungey-noise rock four piece with an ex-Hey Colossus drummer on guitar and vocals. There was a guest vocal by an ex-Hey Colossus vocalist/current Hey Colossus guitarist on a song that which was very reminiscent of the older sludgier Hey Colossus sound. I liked them.

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Fourth up were Nottingham punks Blind Eye, the only proper punk band on the bill. They play a fast melodic hardcore and had the crowd buzzing; there were even a small number of people slam dancing through their short and furious set. From where I was standing it was impossible to get a decent photo of the guitarist, he was mostly in the dark, one of the only musicians I didn’t get a photo of.

The venue was at ground level with the locked glass fire door on Rivington Street, opposite a restaurant and bar. It was very early evening when Blind Eye took the stage and I was amused by all the fancily dressed young folk peering in through the glass of the doors, wondering/bemused at the thunderous racket going on inside.

Four bands in, and the first band with a bass player and also the first without current or ex Hey Colossus member.

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Not owning of their records meant I was not that familiar with Gum Takes Tooth, only really giving them an online listen in the days before the gig. I liked what I heard and was keen to see them, they were the real outliers on the day; no bass, no drums and no guitars, as well as being the only band on the day yet to release anything on Wrong Speed, apparently something coming in 2023.

The played a set that sounded very techno to my electronic-ignorant ears, and they got a very good response from full venue, I enjoyed their set a lot.

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Headliners for the event were Hey Colossus, a last minute addition after another band had to pull out. I always like seeing Hey Colossus, and I guess with so many members at the venue it made sense that they played. It was a cracking set as well, with a couple of new tracks being aired as well as songs from the last three records. I enjoyed it immensely, especially the epic closer, the 16 minute Trembling Rose. Paul, the vocalist is such a fun photographic subject.

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This was the first time I’ve been to a multi-band event where every band was excellent, it was impossible to pick a favourite. They were all different enough that direct comparisons would be impossible.Big thanks to the bands, the fans, the bar team, Joe, Chris, Baba Yagas Hut and anyone else who was involved in organising the day.

Roll on the next event in mid-2023.

Big thanks to the bands, the fans, the bar team, Joe, Chris, Baba Yagas Hut and anyone else who was involved in organising the day.

Roll on the next event in mid-2023.

Hey Colossus with Kulk @ Studio 9294

Friday 24 June 2022 – Hey Colossus with Kulk @ Studio 9294, Hackney Wick, London.

Hey Colossus have been a favourite band for a few years and I’ve been looking forward to seeing them again since they made a surprise appearance at The Piper in St Leonards way back in November 2019. A gig that turned out to be almost the last I attended pre-lockdown. This London show was originally scheduled as an album release party in 2020, was then postponed to 2021 and then further postponed to now. Life was not normal for most of 2020 and 2021 so it was an eager and expectant crowd that turned up to Studio 9294 in Hackney Wick to see them.

Noise/sludge/doom duo Kulk, I’m not entirely sure how to describe them, were the support act. They were OK, I mostly enjoyed their set, but they weren’t really my cup of tea, a bit too metal for my tastes. 

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Taking photos in the available light was a struggle, the band were mostly in darkness with very strong strip lighting behind them. I took a few photos with some difficulty and then gave up,  these are the best of an average to poor bunch.

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After some last minute monitor cable faffing Hey Colossus were welcomed to the stage by a loud and robust cheer from the audience. As a six piece they managed to survive reasonably intact over the pandemic period with only the drummer and one of the guitarists changing since I last saw them. They have been recording and performing for 16 years and lines-up changes are quite normal for them, the replacement guitarist has been a band member before. The main thing was they survived the pandemic, managed to rehearse even though they live all over the place, and it seems they have written some new songs as well.

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Their 13th LP, a double, “Dances/Curses” came out in November 2020 to critical acclaim and a number of represses, and was released on bass player, Joe’s new label Wrong Speed Records . I have two copies, not for any weird ‘playing one and keeping one mint’ reason, but because one got lost in the post for two months so I ordered another. They’re a small band, albeit with lots of members, and I didn’t want to the Royal Mail’s balls-up to be at their cost. I could afford it, though obviously I didn’t expect the first copy to turn up, which it did about two days after the second copy. Oh well. Wrong Speed have released quite a few recordings during and since lockdown, all have been by obscure artists, across a variety of genres and most have been excellent. I have a few…

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The ten song set was, as you would expect, mostly made up of tracks from the new record, though they played a couple off the previous LP ‘Four Bibles’ which I appreciated as it is a great collection of songs. There was also a new song in the set, which seems to have been called B & G, possibly describing a two chord main riff, who knows?

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The set closed with the 16 minutes track Trembling Rose from the new LP, a favourite of mine and by the enthusiastic reception from the crowd, it was a favourite of most others as well.

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We really enjoyed the gig. Though like the Gnod gig I went to in May it was quite loud and a bit muddy it was difficult to hear individual instruments where we were standing. Ear plugs would have been good so I’ve ordered some for future gigs. My ears are getting old.

It was fab just getting out of the house of evening and doing something, and Hackney Wick isn’t a bad place to do it.

Hey Colossus Supported by Mullholland @ The Piper, St Leonards.

06 November 2019 – Hey Colossus with Mullholland @ The Piper

Hey Colossus are a bit of an odd beast; a sort of noise/droney/experimental/metal with a bit of pop, band. They are impossible to accurately describe, and each album is a little different to the previous. They are resolutely low-key. I had not heard of them in NZ, yet they have been around since the early noughties, releasing records and touring. They released a new LP, ‘Four Bibles’ in May, and it sits very high up on my album of the year list. I was pleasantly surprised that they were playing a gig in St Leonards, and for a paltry £5.50. OK it was a Wednesday, but now I have discovered I can work from a Hastings office a Wednesday is not as tricky as it could be.

After a busy day at work in London I had a fairly stressful drive down to the flat. It was as busy as you would expect for rush hour. I am not a big fan of driving in the dark, off the main highways the roads are crap and I don’t drive often enough now to be totally comfortable on the road. I am becoming one of those slow and overly cautious drivers I hated being stuck behind when I was in NZ. I am seeing the other side now.

Arriving at the flat not long before the gig started, I dumped the load of stuff I brought down, and headed to the pub almost immediately. Rushing  didn’t help the stress levels. I really like The Piper, it is a new pub, having opened since I have been in St Leonards. They have bands, most of which I like, the music in the pub is often really good, and they have a really good house red at a decent price. [*note; 3 weeks later, the good house red at a decent price seems to have ended.]

Hey Colossus were supported by Mullholland, a young instrumental duo from the Channel Islands, now living in Brighton, I am guessing there is not much of a music scene on Jersey. I thought they were brilliant, they have released a couple of albums, which I had listened to at work, but they were very much a live band. I took a few photos, and am looking forward to hearing the next, pending, record.

Hey Colossus are a six piece guitar, bass and drum band. A bit too big for the stage at The Piper, and too big for the 20mm lens on the GX800 (basically a 50mm lens on a normal camera). I could not fit all of them in a single shot. This is the first gig on a European tour, they are from London and the south west, so I guess this was on the way to the ferry to France. There had been no sound check, it was at times a total wall of noise, at others the sound was crisp and clean. Either way it was pretty damn good. The vocalist was standing directly under that hideous purple spot light, so I was forced to convert these to black and white.

When they hit the stage I am fairly sure they was more band members than audience, something I was pretty upset about, though it did fill out a little once the the music started. I know this is small town coastal England, Brexit country, small ‘c’ conservative, and yes Hey Colossus are never going to be Ed fucking Sheeran, but they deserved a much bigger crowd than this. They are innovative, noisy, talented, though to be fair I doubt they gave a shit. Small audiences are what they are used to I guess.

I was mesmerised by the vocalist, he does not look like his voice. Maybe it was the ‘tache.

I loved them. My ears less so, they were still humming well after I got to work on Thursday.

I posted  couple of photos on Instagram on Thursday night and Mullholland asked if they could use them, which was very nice. My photos on their Instagram feed get more likes than any photos on my feed!