‘Twas was the 80th night before Christmas, and Quarry was hosting a music gig. Three bands were playing, Hinged, Telescopic Arms and Slow Knife. A perfect way to celebrate. In prior years I’d celebrated the countdown from the big 8-0 in a myriad of ways. One year I lay on a pile of blankets piled all the way up to the top of the Liver Building, precariously balanced, trying to catch a glimpse of the Pillars of Creation with the naked eye. Another year I’d purposely blinded a dog. But this year, ‘twas to be celebrated with a music gig.
The first band, Hinged, played a set that sounded like the Offspring with math-rock guitars. It was clear from the get-go that they were here to celebrate the 80th night before Christmas as it was intended to be celebrated. They didn’t don the usual Father Christmas outfits you’d expect from a gig played on this specific date. I initially found this odd, but the music spoke for itself. Hinged have only played a handful of gigs so far, however their anthemic emo is already swamped in character, and I’d expect to see them play many more gigs following this.
During the interval between bands I noticed that over the bar, under the guise of celebration for the great day, Aidan had left a rogue mistletoe. I know Aidan all too well and am used to his tricks. Simply put, it wasn’t there before I walked up to that bar, and would certainly be gone by the time I left. Thankfully, I had my emergency shears on my person, and I hacked down the mistletoe without a moment's thought. Better luck next time Aidan!
Following Hinged was Telescopic Arms, who instantly dominated the stage with raucous chants of ‘A-ha’ and ‘Dada’. Maybe these are simply the original lyrics, but it would be hard not to assume it had some relation to Dadaism, based on the surreal and spontaneous stage movements the band show off. It would be much harder to suggest that the ‘A-ha’s were in relation to the 80s band A-ha, and their hit single ‘Take On Me’, which had far less to do with the set we saw.
There was a point in the set in which one of the band members took a curved cymbal and a hammer, got into the crowd, smashed it over and over again, before chasing it around the room smashing it with the hammer. It was funny and exciting, and weirdly, though a lesser band might have simply used it as a gimmick, it added an awful lot to the song. A friend of mine who wasn’t really into that sort of thing told me afterwards “I actually really enjoyed that! Except the bit with the cymbal. That made me very nervous.” I think this person actually understood what the band wanted more than most people. Regardless, it was thrilling and ridiculous, and Telescopic Arms are probably one of the better live bands you could go and see at the moment.
During the next interval, as if by some Christmas miracle, it began to snow! I was quickly made aware though, that it wasn’t snow, but was in fact a blown up amp. I had been led to believe for most of my adult life (and parts of my child-life) that the smell of burning metals was a telltale sign for oncoming snow. Initially I was disappointed, realising this wouldn’t be the 80th night before Christmas of my dreams, however I soon remembered another band was due to play, and the true meaning of the 80th night before Christmas was revealed to me.
Last on the bill were Slow Knife. The best way to describe it, really, was that over the next hour, a very strange biblical figure wandered around the crowd indoctrinating us into a strange belief system where we were told all we knew was wrong, with musical accompaniment onstage. It was a hypnotising and mythological set. The perfect antidote to Telescopic Arms chaos. I mentioned in an album review for Slow Knife that they would be, and I quote, “excellent to see live”. Ever the wordsmith, I was proven right, hazaar!
It was a very peculiar way to end the evening. There were no strict song-structures, or song endings, or song beginnings either. It all felt very hazy and dreamlike, and I probably couldn’t tell you whether certain bits happened near the start or the end (which is mad, as I’m usually very good with numbers). It really did meld into one complete piece, and when I popped my head outside at the end I felt slightly dizzy.
Wow, what a lovely 80th night before Christmas, one of the best ever! Certainly beats the year I laid waste to that poor dog! Go and see all these lovely bands if you get the chance, and please, do remember to celebrate the next 80 days accordingly!