Leeds The Cockpit

[B]Dark Star[/B] may be barely moving, but the venue is shaking...

Dark Star may be barely moving, but the venue is shaking. Its foundations rattle to the band’s thudding, brutal basslines and vicious bursts of feedback. But beyond the gloom, singer Bic Hayes remains icily unmoved by the surrounding commotion. His dark, mocking eyes seem to issue a silent challenge to everyone here and, within the first three songs, he’s already proved he’s both willing and able to mess with our heads.

But, as you might expect, it isn’t pretty. Don’t be fooled by the delicate tangle of fairy lights wrapped round the mic stands, Bic‘s razor-sharp cheekbones and that charmingly floppy hair. Nor the band’s fleeting appearance in the Top 25 with ‘Graceadelica’ and their accompanying [I]Top Of The Pops[/I] performance. Because tracks like ‘I Am The Sun’ and ‘The Sound Of Awake’ are uglier and more wondrous than it’s possible to imagine from the tidier facts on their CV. They’re mere incidentals, bait to lure you in.

The real Dark Star only emerge in their live performances. Enhanced by the smoky gloom and a harsh, unforgiving light show, the band combine the claustrophobic intensity of Joy Division with the sheer unfettered brutality of Nirvana and turn it into something beautiful. Beneath the layers of noise, strains of sweet, soothing melody filter through the thundering bass; just another unexpected twist in the seething mass of contradictions that make ex-Levitation blokes Dark Star work so well.

Behind [I]NME[/I], two teenage boys are suddenly moved to discuss the future of their own fledgling band, to wonder if they can push their dream just that little bit further. And their timing says all you need to know about why Dark Star are special. They’re a band who inspire and motivate, who spur others on to pick up a guitar and create their own vital, uncompromising vision of the world. Normal factors like taste, trends and chart positions don’t even figure in the equation.

With Dark Star, it’s all or nothing and, as a consequence, those TV appearances will probably stay few and far between. But just be grateful they’re happy to make that choice. Unlike so many bands around right now, you can trust Dark Star will never aspire to the ordinary.