Bad Guys, live in London
Venue: The Lexington, London
Support: Sex Swing, Henge
Whilst about 80% of London’s rock community aree enjoying the exceptional and long-awaited nostalgia trip that is a Pepper Keenan-featuring Corrosion Of Conformity laying waste to the Electric Ballroom, a little further across town a few more adventurous souls (and, let’s be honest, those who find that their right arms and own mothers are still deemed insufficient funds to secure a COC ticket) gather to take a peek into rock's future, rather than to party in its past.
Exemplifying this ‘future’ tag to such a degree that they’ve yet to put out anything even resembling a record – or for that matter anything more than a few rough Bandcamp demos – are local quartet Henge . Looking something like a homeless cycling club, the lethargic and fuzz-enveloped stop of the likes of King and Trash Can in particular are like a painful collision between a late-era Black Flag, Unsane and a Buckfast-addled Pissed Jeans… With whistling.
Whereas the reference points in Henge’s sonic wallop might be relatively apparent, there are scarcely the words let alone the necessary genres with which to accurately describe the throbbing and deranged sonic mass summoned forth by fellow Londoners Sex Swing . Featuring members of some of the UK noise scene's more notable exponents – particularly Tim Cedar of Part Chimp and Dan Chandler of the much missed Dethscalator, as well as members of Liverpool Psych veterans Mugstar – their five-headed mixture of bass, drums, bass saxophone, vintage electronic organ and, err, Chandler's angry processed howls, somehow coalesces into a threateningly hypnotic pulse that intermittently spasms to the wails of the seemingly freeform sax. At times descending into an almost Kraut-rock, motorik style repetitiveness the likes of Night-time Worker are as uncomfortable as they are captivating. RIYL: Drinking methylated spirits out of an old welly and unexplained blackouts… Not to be missed at next month’s Desertfest.
Launching their long awaited (by some) second album – the somewhat brilliantly titled Bad Guynaecology – tonight by playing an actual venue, with and actual stage might seem a bit too obvious for a band like Bad Guys , whose previous performances have included guerrilla gigs in Butlins chalets at ATP, on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth and naked in front of a life drawing class at the Royal Academy of the Arts. However, on the strength of the new album and their ever-tighter live shows it’s something they better to get used to, because if there’s any justice in the word then the four piece should soon be playing venues twice this size. With their masterful mix of humour and the sort of riffs that would make both ZZ Top and QOTSA jealous, as guitarists PJ and Dave swing their double-necked guitars like a Status Quo covers troupe, the likes of Prostitutes (Are Making Love In My Garden) and the powerfully romantic Reaper get the party started in a way few bands these days are capable of. And yet, never is there raison d’être more perfectly exposed than during the petty-crime saga of Crime and its bizarrely unifying closing chant: “You should’ve bought me that truck, you fuck!”. Bad guys, maybe. Great fucking band, definitely.