Saturday, 2 July 2022


Green Door Store, Brighton, Sat 26th June

Show Me the Body hail from New York City, and mix hardcore punk with noise rock and sludge metal. (Wikipedia adds Hip-Hop to the mix, but my ears heard less of that.) A combination handily demonstrated by the visual aid of the singer’s close crop and guitarist’s multi-follickled locks. Effects pedals, often the preserve of Post-Rock, are used as a de facto keyboard. Though their sound is also achieved, rather wonderfully, with the aid of the banjo.

Given that those styles work by marshalling the force of repetition, this outfit switch things up with some alacrity. It gives the music a skittering quality, like it can’t quite be grasped. Like that Kung-Fu master who’s struck you in three separate places before you’ve even moved. But at other points they go in for the slow fuse, tracks building in intensity before plunging into the riff. At which moments the mosh-pit stands poised, awaiting the Sword of Damocles to fall.

Yes, the mosh pit… In one of his few audience comments, the singer remarks that last time they were here no-one else was. Whereas tonight I became afeared the mosh-pit would fill the venue, with no far wall left for us frail Fifty-somethings to flee too. But while there’s mosh-pits which seem Ian arena sport, to which the actual music is incidental, here everyone seems to know each track by heart. The singer often passes out the mike, with pretty much everyone singing their assigned line then obligingly handing it back. (Their early gigs were apparently held not only in basements, but alleys and under flyovers.)

Lyrics fly by you, as they will normally do with this sort of thing. But less than penning rebel anthems they seem more concerned with bottling and then uncorking pressure-cooker urban angst. Which of course has a rich history with New York bands. Going back to the famous Suicide quote: “People were coming in off the streets… where they were hoping they’d be escaping and all we were doing was shoving the street back in their face again.”

Even disregarding the lockdown impasse, this must have been one of the most high-energy gigs I’ve been to in recent years. Possibly since Death Grips. (Now nine years ago. Bloomin’ Ada!)

After the most recent Godspeed gig, I commented on how Punk can often feel a poor fit for our era. It’s not that there’s less to be angry about, but that there’s too much. As things degenerate further and further, Punk becomes stuck in an arms race of outrage, which inevitably leaves it outpaced. Reagan-level outrage no longer seems inadequate in the Trump years. What makes this trio different? 

Partly by mixing Punk with other styles, creating a kind of cocktail effect. But mostly, it’s not because they play louder or faster, or any of the usual things. It’s that they sound more volatile, as if held together mostly by trajectory, like extemporised incendiary devices just about going off in the right place at the right time, like incandescent fury barely turned into music. They somehow seem at perpetual risk of fizzling out, even though they never do.

Forty-five minutes on onslaught later, they abruptly announce the show over. Like a summer storm which came out of nowhere, then finished just as fast.

From Detroit, rather than Brighton. But near in time, okay…

No comments:

Post a Comment