– by Hannah Nissen
Ahh Northbridge, once renowned for it’s one-punch deaths and drunken street violence, now a central hub of social and cultural diversity for people of all cuts, colours, and textures to come together and share a mumbly-spoken bond of one prevailing connection – the desire to get smashed.
The diversity on James Street that concaved up into Jimmy’s Den last Saturday night was one of vast range. People of all ages spanned throughout the night, the most extreme differences of age all seemingly appeared as if they had swapped clothes. Watching the younger crowd rock nanna-shoes and block coats, while the older representatives gathered in ripped jeans and statement t-shirts, it was refreshing seeing such a blend, all out and about with one aim in mind, have a good time and prepare for the piquant head fuck the warped minds behind French Rockets were yet to take us down.
Starting out the night was major deliverers, Mayor Dadi. Having admittedly not heard from these guys before, I can say my first live impression was a good one. Their sound was smooth and sinuous, with a few base-heavy tracks that fused simplistic pulses with hopeful majors.
Their song ‘Average or Below’ reminded me of an Arabian-desert-on-a-magic-carpet kind of night. The synth grew into a psych interlude with red lights blaring and a killer guitar bust from the badass, yet totally blasé Brendan Cummins. Ending the short and sharp set with an energetic bang, my head banged along to what sounded like an egg-shaker and the nonchalant oomph that poured out of blank faces. Although the on-stage antics were kept to a minimum, drummer Danny White carried the crowd with motivational momentum. The crowd was obviously still warming up and it was a shame to see the turn out had not yet turned up, as the thick ethereal sounds were really warming, and this threesome deserved more then what they got, because they certainly did so for us.
Transporting the three-dimensional world during the smoko breaks between bands was the mind-bending omniscient Dj Thyrd Pseich. Offering the non-addicts a number of psyche bangers, including (but not limited to) the kraut Curly Curves ‘Queen of Spades,’ as well as ‘You’d Better Believe It’ by the stoner-space rockers Hawkwind. Great stuff.
Up next was the acid-washed Blondie-akin Dream Rimmy. This is the third time I have got to see the retro group, and as always they never cease to provide the hallucinogenic 80’s/90’s vibes. So much Daria sound, minus the teenage angst. With their major scale scattering of nostalgia, they infected the audience with a longing for the nineties. Even if the aged spectators strewn around the crowd weren’t proud parents, they looked upon the Rimmy with such a fond freedom that they very well could have been. I noticed this natural blend in the different generations, and it was a refreshing change to see all these old-school souls coming together for a good-ass time.
Ali’s vocals always reminded me of Sleeper’s second-to-none rendition of ‘Atomic’ in the club seen of Trainspotting for some reason, while singing ‘Spring Break’ everyone with prettier hair than the next bumping along to the heaviest beat of the seat, which remained about as menacing as a duckling in a villain super-suit. The banter in between was real, and a little bit awkward, which I love, because the band already reminds me so much of a high school ball on LSD, although they’ve managed to uphold a severe level of no-fucks, their saturated sounds reminiscent to the style of Conan Moccasin.
Their song ‘Shy,’ or ‘Bubblebath,’ whichever you choose, had a hella Cranberry’s/10 Things I Hate About You style to it, basic in all the right places. I always enjoy taking a trip (PUN) down memory lame with Dream Rimmy, and I’m excited to see where they will go from their latest newfound success.
Alzabo was probably my found-gem of the evening. Having never heard their stuff before it was a treat to be welcomed by this crash of sound after this continuous, lingering white noise beat, and after losing my seat in the “move it you lose it” game of life, I got a serious kick in the head by the drinks that hadn’t settled yet, but mainly the droning doom-heavy sludge lingering out the speakers, before pronouncing itself with fury. I’m not sure if it was because I began having a two second delay to fully process what I was hearing or not, but the set seemed to just be one drawn out, but definitely not long enough song.
The drumming echoed out with a sinister presence, and once the overture of noise erupted I was squinting a monumental bitch-face of approval, which seems to happen whenever I am taken aback. I was genuinely stunned by the raw power that came from these two, and Alzabo is a definite up-and-comer for the year ahead.
Finally, as French Rockets took to the stage, so too, did the pyrotechnics, as well as my asthma. The ebb and flow kicked into sonic hyper-drive, the experimental sound comparable to that of Robert Hampson in Loop. The heavy interlude of earth-shattering proportions made the demonic mutterings that were intertwined between songs sound like an ASMR request channel.
I must say the overwhelming amount of power at play would at times mask the vocals, which in retrospect was probably done to add to the elusive glow they projected, but the space rock of the vocals complimented the hard psych so much, it would have been great to hear more of it.
As the blue of the lights ignited with the reflection of everyone standing in the same direction in awe, unanimous winces of “fuck yes” stung the eyes of many, and I eventually surrendered to the urge to get gritty in the only way an upper-middle class white girl knows how; by furiously sitting cross legged and smashing the shit out of the Roxbury head spasm.
As the tasty song ‘Stuck in a moment’ began, block green light seeped down the smog-filled den and created literal visuals in the atmosphere, different shades of green all folding neatly into each other as the audience looked on.
Then, after moving into an electric, funky twang of an original on the new album, as quickly as they came, they left. I could have sworn there was things left unsaid, and songs left un-played, and unless they managed to induce an actual acid trip through their holistic reverence, I could have sworn they only played for around 30 minutes. As I waited for an encore, a thank you, a sign I could hold on to that it wasn’t yet over, they were gone. Before the smoke had settled and I found my footing, French Rockets had left the building.
As I reveled, reeking of garlic and hommus at the kebab shop down below, it bewildered me that a band could be so damn enigmatic. And although I was sad it was over, it was cool knowing that for French Rockets, although they have been around since 2004, it was only just the beginning.
Photo Credit: David Cox