Freaks of the world unite under Dominc Masters' fuck-'em all banner…
Tonight the freaks are taking over. With a new single, ‘Stan Bowles’, in the Top 40, The Others’ songs for the dispossessed have struck a chord with the messed-up and marginalised everywhere. Like a grubbier version of that Christina Aguilera video, The Others’ world is a haven for misfits: boys, girls, boy/girls, the poor, queer, goth, fat, weird, scared, bullied, whatever. The losers of the world have united and they’re taking their struggle to the stage.
But when this band first arrived, people were divided. Were they cynical rock’n’roll tricksters or the real deal? They had pedigree – The Libertines wrote a song about their singer – but their guerrilla gigging and espousal of heavy drug use smacked slightly of gimmickry. The more we found out about them, however, the more real they became: frontman Dominic Masters comes from a broken home in the suburbs and sings about his life in weird sham-Cockney half-step vocals, like Mark E Smith operating on Damon Albarn without anaesthetic.
But this isn’t just another I-hate-the-world-and-won’t-tidy-my-bedroom teen trauma band. When Dominic takes the stage, he doesn’t play-act, do a dance routine, or glower at the audience like yet another hipster rock doofus with the right clothes and right connections. No, he’s singing for the crowd, and they love him and The Others’ freaky punk-rock blasts, because dirty jagged underdog music has never sounded so celebratory.
Security is tight for this gig. Previous Others shows have seen fights, freak-outs, stage invasions, crowdsurfing and mass singalongs, but tonight you can actually hear the band over the teenage screams. Their gigs have gone from being the musical equivalent of a road accident to a tightly controlled and precise operation. ‘Lackey’ and ‘How I Nearly Lost You’ are trashy anthems to the boredom of a workaday job and the failure of love. ‘Johan’ is a love song for Dominic’s transsexual partner, yet its fuzz-buzz bass hits like a nail bomb of arty-post-punk squall. Then when Dominic introduces ‘Stan Bowles’ it’s with heartfelt emotion. This tribute to Pete Doherty is a dirty blast of serrated riffs, a wide-eyed anthem to the man and the myth. It’s beautiful and celebratory, something proved by the stream of people (people who look just like Dominic) running onstage to hug him.
‘This Is For The Poor’ raises the tension even higher, with Dominic sneering, “This is for all of your disappointments” like the bastard son of Johnny Rotten and Ian Brown. Even among the pandemonium of mosh-mad stage invaders the band manages to find its groove – leftover Joy Division bass underpinning violent guitar screeching that explodes almost exactly at the same moment Dominic launches himself into the audience. This is not retro posing or off-the-peg designer punk, but a fun-rally for all the fucked-up children of the world.
George Harvey Bone