Jazzhands, Kusanagi, So Sexual, Fonetiks: Mello Mello, Liverpool
Jazzhands lead a night of miscellaneous musical mayhem at Mello Mello, Getintothis' Alice Robinson takes time out from nibbling on the homemade vegan cookies to capture the action.
As always, the idiosyncratic charm of Mello Mello is evident from the moment we arrive.
The usual medley of patrons are scattered around the bar, or sitting at tables sipping real ale and nibbling homemade vegan cookies.
Local artist Daniel Christopher Clifton's particularly arresting brand of aesthetics adorns the walls.
People trip in steadily, but the night is yet young, and the first act that takes the stage probably doesn't have quite the crowd that it deserves.
Fonetiks get things going with a stripped-back version of their set; we get none of the projections or visuals that the band has become known for, but this detracts little from the experience.
In fact, it's a pleasure to concentrate on the whacked-out digital soundscapes emanating from the stage. For a three-piece, these lads make an awful big noise.
Jamie Jenkin's surprisingly soulful vocals roll over the layers of sound and swelling melodies suddenly become spiky, hard-hitting digital-rock tunes as drummer David Ward kicks into top gear, thrashing the skins like a blond rock whirlwind.
The crowd is growing now and following Fonetiks is the indie-retro-pop band So Sexual, treating the room to short, energetic synth-rock tunes about lost love and sexual deviance that end right when you expect them not to, on a lingering chord or unresolved riff.
It would be impossible to get bored of a So Sexual song - they all leaving you hanging mid-air, still waiting for the resolution, while the band are already launching into the next synth-laden slice of mischief. This music has a smile firmly on its face.
Next up, the ever-mysterious Kusanagi take the stage. This elusive hardcore group deliver a set of heavy, driving instrumentals that are crafted, sometimes beautifully, sometimes maniacally.
The music demands attention and the sound is water-tight, clean when it's dirty, even clinical at times. They belie their inexperience; these guys could have gigged a thousand times for the sound they create.
By now the atmosphere is buzzing, the crowd is thick and the hum of excited conversation lies like a sonic carpet through the room. People gather in anticipation for the no-holds-barred audio/visual assault that is Jazzhands.
The line-up includes two drummers with full kits (one of them wearing a tutu, a trucker cap and not much else), one saxophonist, one enthrallingly demented bassist/vocalist and one balaclava-clad, cow-bell wielding rabid percussionist gimp. It was a hell of a show.
Squally vocals cut through an intricate tangle of jazz/rock melodies and the musicians have fun with time signatures and rhythms, playing across one another.
In sections they're not unlike a modern King Crimson or Van Der Graaf Generator. The third percussionist wades into the crowd on several tracks, beating the hell out of whatever makes a noise and writhing on the floor in jazz fusion ecstasy.
It's fun, different and anything but boring. You want to get involved at a Jazzhands gig, even if it does leave you feeling a bit like you've been mugged.
Mello Mello is a well-established venue for good reason; it attracts a great mixture of regulars and transient band-followers that provide just the right level of hysteria - a kind of chilled-out anticipation that buzzes along nicely, only exploding in bouts at the more raucous musical moments.
The combination of good location, interesting music and eclectic company made for a great night out and a few of the bands in question certainly deserve a second look. All in all, it's a showcase of some of Liverpool's untapped talent, and an experience Getintothis won't forget.
Picture by Richard B.