Sometimes, regardless of planning, you can’t accommodate for happy accidents. A day that giddily worked itself up to the arrival of headliners and indie uberlords Sonic Youth belonged, unquestionably, to their heirs apparent.
When And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead left the stage close to five thirty they effectively ended all. It wasn’t just that they were good. All the hype that has surrounded the most self-reverentially named band since Yes has not been empty. They astonished. Bludgeoning through tracks from last year’s eponymous debut, the Texan four-piece by degrees blistered and terrified. The sheer volume of their My Bloody Valentine meets Afghan Whigs axis could not obscure the menace of every single track. It might yet become a definitional show.
It’s just a shame their spiritual leaders didn’t match. Sonic Youth were appalling. They were unforgiveably, inexplicably, uncontrollably appalling. If any of All Tomorrow’s Parties considerable number who packed cheek by jowl into the rather surreal ballroom surround had hoped for an hour and a half of loose jam/tune-up followed by one sad apology for a song, they would have been delirious. Everyone else was left scratching heads and wondering just what had gone on and why we had bothered to stay. A small determined number of ex-fans attempted to round up a posse to burn down their chalet. As a marker for forthcoming Allen Ginsberg inspired ‘New York City Ghosts And Flowers’ it does not bode well. Ligament opened trying a great self-aggrandising scam. Mentioning their name at every available opportunity (before tracks, after tracks, during tracks) left all thinking of muscle parts ahead of their brutal, raucous fuzz. Poor Snow Patrol were on a hiding to nothing as soon as they stepped on stage. Trying to follow …Trail Of The Dead would have left peak period Pixies (to whom they are frequently though wrongly likened) pissed against the wind. After a tense half hour a largely apathetic crowd realised the Northern Irish beats meets wholesale indie three-piece, given a little time, might finally be allowed to break.
Clinic murmured through. The operating theatre scrubs have been discarded allowing all attention to focus on a quiet and warmly disconcerting set. The shadow of German pioneers Faust was rarely far away. It was a welcome glance into artrock history.
While Clinic nudged towards Krautrock as a sounding board, Arab Strap found it much closer to home. Though the regular themes of fucked up relationships, too much drink and a complete inability to communicate were wrought with the same casual intensity as ever, the knawing repetition was at times overlong, erring frighteningly towards prog rock. It’s a tendency to be avoided.
Perhaps they should have a quick chat to …Trail Of The Dead. They’ll show an equally bleak future, but one that is impossible to resist.