Trolley Crash night review
Keshco's first promotion night has been reviewed! Sadly they didn't stay to actually see us play as Keshco, but Bleak House received a few words. Read on:
Review of Trolley Crash - unusual music and movement - from NOW, Anat Ben-David, Rude Mechanicals, Keshco, Bleak House
"Electronic performance art and music."by Andy Becker
for remotegoat on 11/08/08
Dry Bar is situated around the corner from Barbican tube station. As you walk down the stairs you enter a snug basement bar split into two sections. Upon arrival we're greeted with a selection of classic childhood confectioneries; Chewitts, drumstick lollys and Refreshers, certainly a good start to the evening.
I make my way through the bar where I'm confronted by three chaps making rather strange and ambient noises .. Bleak House. These experimental meanderings utilizing old synthesizers, guitars and keytars are (to me) quite bemusing at first. A guy resembling the love-child of Mark Bolan & Art Garfunkel sits crossed legged on the floor strumming chords through a digital effects processor set to a back drop of ever-changing but mundane photography. I spend a good fifteen minutes trying to figure out a possible dialogue then give up to get a drink. However just as I'm at the bar things take a turn for the better. A piece - which I can only presume is titled "Interesting Now" - consists of electronic organ accompanied by harmonica and percussion make for a strong instrumental track. Themes of travel and transport begin to emerge from the video backdrop accompanied by some rather funny improvised poetry about train journeys from the Keytar player who is now dressed up as a train ticket inspector. He stands and shouts at us (in a Yorkshire drawl) that he will take all of our money and bugger of to the Bahamas with it. Great.
Next up was the main attraction of the night, Performance Atist/Performer/Musician /Producer Anat Ben-David. Born in Jerusalem and based in London, Ben-David made a name for herself with her pioneering art-house electro band Chicks on Speed. Tonight she's promoting her first solo album "Virtual Leisure" released on the Chicks on Speed Label. Ben-Davids set begins with an electro cover of "Fools Gold" by the Stone Roses. This provides the background music to a collection of her video pieces. For her first number she launches into "Poor R Fat". Ben-David has a piercing stage presence (imagine Enya after a 3 year heroin binge in Berlin and you might be somewhere close). Operatic vocals, 8-bit synthesizers and bombastic electronic drum rolls rattle the audiences eardrums. These elements combine with striking synchronized video footage (see her myspace) to create an intense, futuristic and romantic atmosphere that could easily be an excerpt from the climax of a David Lynch film. Halfway through the set we're treated to a fully nude Ben-David projected onto the video back drop singing directly into the camera at the audience. This image is accompanied by the real life duplicate in a red silk robe. I'm interested by Ben-Davids expressions; she watches the audience lear as her naked image serenades them. All eyes in the room have naturally shifted to the nude footage on the screen and as Ben David scans the faces of the audience for signs of reaction, she's successfully managed to reverse the roles of performer and audience member.
Next were Rude Mechanicals, a prime example of when a group of extremely talented musicians get together and manage to play all the wrong notes together at the same time. A transvestite singer who resembles the dragged up corpse of Nancy from the play Oliver, a multi-talented Oboe player dressed in silver hot pants and an electric blue wig plus three ordinary blokes that look like they should be playing in a Dire Straits covers band. If Anat Ben-David was the siren at the end of a Lynch film then Rude Mechanicals resembled the Cantina band from Star Wars. The mixture of New Romantic Cabaret-Jazz (combined with my four bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale) was quickly sending me into slumber mode until I was rudely awakened by some of the highest operatic shrieking i've ever heard ... glass shatteringly high! Yes it was the blue haired, silver thonged oboe player! Technically impressive as it was these high frequencies gave me (and probably a few other members of the audience) a bit of a headache. This was my cue to leave.
Overall I had a very entertaining night at the Dry Bar. There were free sweets, great music, performance art and ... well not so great music. Unfortunately I missed the headline act and promoters Kescho (so sorry guys). However for their first night as promoters and performers I think they did a great job. And if they keep on booking acts with the same quality as Anat Ben-David then they're onto a winner in this comfy dingy nightspot.