Irish Chris and I were sat eating Mexican food a couple of hours before the start of the gig. It’s fair to say that neither of us really had a clue what we were about to witness. The album “Worst Show On Earth” really had us hooked from the moment we both first heard it, it’s mix of Post Punk, Industrial and weird, Psychedelic Pop music performed by a singing drummer, a sampler and four bassists has an odd way of seeping into your brain. Again and again our talk kept returning to the same question over and over again.
What the hell would you expect from an Evil Blizzard gig?
To be honest, I’m still not sure I have an answer.....
Upstairs at Think Tank is probably the best venue in Newcastle for this sort of thing. It’s dark, mysterious and atmospheric. From the “What the fuck have you done?” neon sign to the pop culture and horror film images plastered to the walls, you get a feeling that venue manager Steve Jones makes sure that you get a great impression from the room before a band even plays the first note. You kind of get the vibe of the sort of place that classic American Punk bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat and Black Flag would have played here if it existed back in the day, all under that watchful eye of Jeff Bridges as The Dude from The Big Lebowski who stares down crazily from the ceiling.
The room is starting to fill up nicely as the opening band take to the stage. I don’t catch their name at all and they only play the one song. I was going to say that it was an instrumental but there was a vocalist at the front of the stage singing occasionally into a vocal effect, creating a wordless droning sound akin to a didgeridoo whilst the band’s core of drums, bass and guitar played around him. The song/jam stretches to around twenty minutes or so, building and then dropping back down in intensity and tempo. It sounds cool but does feel like it starts to drag occasionally as it comes across as being quite relentless, a never ending assault on the senses. I think I would have enjoyed it more if there was more variation, sections dropping down to a bare section every now and again to allow a change in feel and allowing the builds to work more effectively, like Mogwai are so adept at doing. I’d certainly like to see and hear more from them so if anyone can let me know who they were I’d be grateful.
We change our position to the back of the room opposite the stage where there’s a small rasied area with a good view of the stage. This is a band that’s known to be pretty visual after all. After a quick change over, the Incubus cd that is being played (“Make Youself” if you’re feeling curious) is turned down and the dark, ominous intro instrumental starts playing. After a build up of a couple of minutes Evil Blizzard shuffle onto the stage. Where Slipknot once used masks to convey aspects of their personality that seemed to grow more comedy like with each reboot, these guys look genuinely disturbing. There’s Side, the cowled singer drummer staring deep into your soul and the pig mask wearing, hatchet wielding Blizzpig on samples tucked to the side of the stage whilst the band’s four bass players Stomper, Kav, Prowler and Filthy Dirty (who also adds extra vocals) all take their place at the front of the stage. I’ve had nightmares that looked cheery in comparison to this as I see a mannequin mask, a transparent grinning mask, a lobotomised Michael Myers mask and a disturbing clown mask. After their hour set I’m stood contemplating if I can get in touch with a counsellor. Or a Hollywood film director to make some messed up horror film that will rake it in at the box office.
The band lurch into 'Hello', opening track from their latest album, all vintage PiL and Killing Joke with a glam stomp added to it. There is a good size crowd here that are lapping it up. If you wonder how four bass players work, especially live, the answer is.......really well surprisingly. I thought the frequencies from all four would sound mushy but no. Each musician has their own subtle different sound and each seem to play around a main bass line adding extra rhythms and accentuation. You really don’t miss the sound of a normal guitar here at all.
Filthy Dirty says “Hello Sunderland” cheekily and the band are straight into their next song. The simple drums anchor everything, allowing Side to sing easily, adding the occasional tribal tom tom rhythm section to power things along. Blizzpig’s samples help add colour to the onslaught, with him occasionally holding up signs encouraging the crowd to boo them rather than applaud (it’s an ongoing in joke between the band and their regular followers).
The nursery rhyme lyrics sit comfortably over the driving, hypnotic drums of ‘Unleash The Misery’ and create a real groove as the wall of noise that Al Jourgenson would be proud of builds over the song. One of the guys has a problem with his bass and misses most of ‘Tell Me’ before he returns to the stage with *gasp* a normal guitar of all things.
The band continue to crush the audience with their sonic onslaught. Single ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ with it’s glamorous disco feel stomps all over us, pummelling away at the audience with it’s infectious Pop hooks before descending into a musical crush. Filthy Dirty forces a theramin baby doll head onto the front row over the psychedelic ‘Slimy Creatures’ while ‘Are You Evil?’ is introduced jokingly with “do you want to hear our hit?” to the baying audience.
The final song of the set sees the band slowly dragging people up onto the stage until it’s full. Filthy Dirty is running through the audience, at one point disappearing outside onto the smoking balcony where he probably scares a few people who’ve turned up to see the Ladyboys of Bangkok in the circus tent across the square before dashing back in again. It happens subtly but, before you know, there are no members of the band left onstage. They slowly slipaway, one by one, until they’re all backstage without anyone really noticing that they’re gone. Just as you realise, the house PA starts playing Nine Inch Nails’ 'Closer' and everyone starts slowly making their way out. All you can do is stand with a glazed look on your face, wondering at the controlled chaos you’ve just witnessed.
What the hell should you expect from an Evil Blizzard gig?
Magic. Chaos. Fear. And one hell of a band that bills itself as the worst show on earth that really just blows you away.
Evil Blizzard - https://www.facebook.com/EvilBlizzardband/
Review - Scott Hamilton
Photos - Gordon Armstrong