This was one of those gigs attended on a whim, rather than as a planned strategy. It was also my (belated) first visit to the downstairs gig space at Stereo. It could do with a lick of paint! But what it lacks in décor (and we’re talking bare minimalism here) it makes up for in layout. The stage area is particularly impressive. It’s by far the largest and highest stage I’ve ever encountered in a venue of this size, which means that it’s easily visible from everywhere. The sound is good too. Capacity wise, Stereo is in direct competition with King Tut’s and Barfly and beats both into a cocked hat on every conceivable criterion.
The first of four acts on show tonight were Glasgow indie scenesters Sexy Kids (not something I’d want to Google), who include Graeme Ronald of Remember Remember on bass. Their Sons and Daughters meet Bis spiky pop is not my thing at all, but a sizeable number of the audience seemed to be in attendance specifically for them. Bent Moustache have a ridiculously bad name, but were probably the most enjoyable band on the night. A two girl/two boy quartet, they play scuzzy, dirty pop which is at times a little over-indebted to the Fall, but is nevertheless great fun.
Ill Ease is former New Radiant Storm King drummer Elizabeth Sharp from Philadelphia. She cleverly constructs her tunes by playing, sampling and looping bass/guitar/drums and singing and playing over the top of what she’s laid down. It’s a lot of fun to watch her do it, but the downside is that the songs, by necessity, are a bit one dimensional, with the same riff, bassline or drum pattern running through repeatedly. It’s a problem that is unavoidable using the method she chooses, although there is sufficient contrast between songs to keep her set interesting. Because the process and the spectacle are more entertaining than the end product, it’s a little difficult to imagine how she makes the songs interesting on record, not having heard one.
It was my third time seeing Enon. Weirdly, I have little recollection of either previous occasion. The first was at the Barfly in 2003 when a new, and little known, group called Franz Ferdinand were third on the bill. The second time was at the following year’s ATP at Camber Sands which boasted a line-up so good, it’s little wonder most of it is a blurred memory now. The group are a trio of ex-Brainiac singer and guitarist John Schmersal, some time Blonde Redhead singer and bassist Toko Yasuda and drummer Matt Shulz. Described in the press as ‘art-punk’, their music exists somewhere in between Blonde Redhead and Melt Banana – harder and faster than the former, but a little more grown-up than the latter. Songs are short and direct with a terrifically full sound. By this time of the evening I was feeling a little sleepy, and felt like I was being bludgeoned over the head with a big fish. It’s hard to fault what they do – they are an incredibly tight and slick unit, and they deserve a bigger audience than the one that stayed past midnight to see them here. I just feel it will be my third Enon show that I will barely remember in a few months time. Very strange, that.