The Amazing Snakeheads
The Victoria, London, Tuesday July 23
As Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’ cuts out Arcade Fire on the PA, three sharply dressed men emerge from a side door and lope onto the stage. Without a word they tear into the 64-second debut single ‘Testifying Time’. It’s that song, accompanied by tales of frontman Dale Barclay’s terrifying stage presence, that’s pushed Glaswegian trio The Amazing Snakeheads to the forefront of music lovers’ minds as a tantalising new prospect. It should – as it has at previous shows – spark chaos in the dingy room. But instead, the audience remains stationary, choosing instead to voice their appreciation with cheers and hollers.
As the set progresses, the sweat drips faster and drummer Jordon Hutchinson removes his shirt and starts waving a towel around. The crowd, though, remain largely motionless, save for a couple who find romance in Dale’s barks of “Come on child, there’s no need to fucking hide” on ‘Truth Serum’. A weird reaction given the hostility coursing through every syllable, but then TAS aren’t about rose-tinted love affairs. They’re primal, carnal, filling every crack in their skeletal rock’n’roll with an instinctive urgency.
A tender instrumental is worlds apart from the jagged edges populating the rest of the set. It silences the crowd, who hang on every drawn-out note before it escalates back into more familiar, portentous territory. And there are hints at grander steps to be taken further down the line, as a new song opens with shrill guitar lines that are straight out of some intergalactic stadium show. Futuristic alien intros or not, there’s still something that doesn’t click tonight. It’s not the Snakeheads’ fault, as they pour all their energies into their performance. And, although tonight isn’t as exhilarating as some of their previous gigs, it still positions the
band as one full of menacing thrills and raw passion.