Live Review: Nail The Cross

The zeitgeist plays catch-up to this mini-festival. Various venues, New Cross, London, Saturday, October 10

Nail the Cross is a mini festival. In the south London hinterland of New Cross. In October. Limitations aside, it boasts a line-up so ahead of the curve that most of these artists – from dubstep’s new blood to the more esoteric fringes of indie – could look over their shoulders and thumb their noses at the zeitgeist trailing wheezingly in their wake.

Up early are Trailer Trash Tracys, whose opaque shoegaze is bolstered with clarity in a live setting, giving songs such as ‘Candy Girl’ a finer point on which to impale your heart. Frontwoman Susanne Aztoria’s despondent lilt recalls Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell slurring over JAMC guitars, especially on ‘Strangling Good Guys’. “This is our soundcheck so I hope it sounds OK,” says the bassist, apprehensively. It does, you know.

With the exquisitely depressing mood set, it’s over to the Amersham Arms for A Grave With No Name. The frontman wears a Weezer T-shirt and sleeveless denim jacket, which is a clue to their weirdly beautiful sound: stoner riffs fed through distortion pedals and woozily high vocals that sound like they were recorded in a room with the door shut, the studio being in the neighbouring country. The serrated techno loops and washes of white noise that remove portions of your hearing spectrum add to their slackerish alienation, but there’s an endearing quality in how they craft careful perfection from the nervousness which sees them abandon a song midway through.

It’s a pity this fragile/aggressive equilibrium goes to shit thanks to the punk posturing of Male Bonding, who only stop the No Age-by-numbers to remark on their drunkenness. Sweaty guys in plaid shirts love it, but just a hop, skip and violent mugging away a true pioneer is at play…

Well, sort of. On the Hyperdub stage, The Spaceape has halted proceedings until the stage lights are turned off (“We don’t want no foolishness,” the bespectacled MC explains). Too right and, as Hyperdub founder Kode9 is plunged into darkness, his set takes in the rib-cage imploding pressure of The Bug’s ‘Poison Dart’, the nu-garage of Joy Orbison’s massive ‘Hyph Mngo’ and the pitch-bent wonk of Joker’s ‘Stash’. Amid the blackness is The Spaceape, spouting aphorisms to a crowd of art students and bassheads in baggy T-shirts who, just a while ago, were moshing to lo-fi noise. But it doesn’t feel contrived. In fact, it feels kind of like the future.

Louise Brailey

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