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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gig Review: The Chariot - Rock City, Nottingham 19/3/11

Day three of the latest Chariot European tour, which itself is wedged in between their travails around North America and Australia. This is, clearly, one of the hardest working live acts out there so, although it’s still a privilege to witness them tear Rock City a new ass, the evening has this nagging air of inevitability about it. Me, them, bedlam. I’ll throw the horns at that.

Tonight, we are invaded by painted Vikings with plastic swords as the venue pits two tours against each other. Upstairs in the larger room we have and , the latter sounding oddly lacklustre without accordion-player Netta Skog but still well supported. Down in the dirty basement lurk the fiery hardcore kids who’ve come to see and . The former were certainly sounding pretty fucking heavy as I sat and tried to interview Chariot vocalist Josh Scogin over the mayhem, but now it’s later and we’re both stage-side watching bassist Jon ‘Wolf’ Kindler and drummer David Kennedy go through a series of warm-up exercises.

It’s the very first note in anger that we truly realise what we’re in for here. With stunned faces all around me, I watch as ‘Wolf’ turns and hurls his bass into the crowd, following it in to retrieve it just moments later. In all my years of gig-going, I’ve never seen someone do that on the first note. There wasn’t even a proper pit formed yet! From that point on, anything goes. The show becomes an absolute free-for-all and that’s just the way like it.

Describing this quintet’s music to a casual observer would be tough but (and please excuse my inexact grasp on the subject) I’d go for the words: Chaos theory. It’s exactly that. Sonically, on occasions, everything all hooks up and you can get a good neck workout, but the component parts (the periodic orbits if you will) all immediately split and go there separate ways just as quickly as they all came together and chaos ensues again. Visually, it’s exactly the same. There are moments when they are all face-front, hammering out their destructively cantankerous hardcore as a unit, but then one-by-one they all turn and start scaling furniture, jumping up wildly, yanking at their respective instruments, falling over. Chaos.

Two minutes later and the first mic has gone – torn from its lead and discarded. Scogin grabs hold of the backing mic, screams bloody murder into it until the drums cave and the guitars dig in, at which point he lobs it to the ground like it’s wronged him in a past life. “David De La Hoz” fires up and he frantically retrieves it only to loft it over the metal ducting above and swing it back and forth whilst he bellows into it with each pass. All around him, the rest of the band show similar disdain for their beloved equipment. More evidence of a life spent on the road. ‘Wolf’s bass, in particular, looks like it’s been stripped of its paint which, considering how often it goes over the barrier, is no surprise.

Kennedy is suddenly up and kneeling on his drumstool; his adjusted action bringing his elbows up high around his ears. A glance to the right and the seemingly omnipresent ‘Wolf’ has mounted the bar whilst below him Brandon Henderson is yanking his guitar up and down, back and forth; hurling himself into impossible shapes. Out front, the pit is small but violent, encouraged by Scogin’s exhortations that “tonight is all about being free” and how their new album, Long Live, is “a tribute to them”. Every now and then fans, some with cameras, begin to find the courage to join the band on stage, one lingering too long before an utterly overwhelmed member of security takes a small, pensive step forwards.

With an Orange amp either side of the drumkit (the bass sound tonight is mighty) there are several moments when it feels like the shockwaves may lift you off your feet. ‘Wolf’ is certainly enjoying it from his lofty perch on top of the speakers, freaking us out as he considers dangling from the glitterball overhead. A brief pause gives Scogin the chance to step front and centre and stare us down. “This has been my favourite show of the tour so far”, he says with a wry smile knowing that it’s only their third date. And with the line “from the first day of the tour people have been shouting for this song” we are thrust into the spasmodic heart of “Yanni Depp” – “NOVOCAINE!” we yell in unison and the huge, heaving breakdown is met by punching fists and flying feet.

By the end, the venue is laid to waste, the audience are ashen-faced and sweat-slicked from their efforts, the floor is littered with broken items, parts of the roof hang loose, an expensive-looking camera has taken a battering, clothing has been discarded at the corners and there, in the centre of the stage lies a mangled and lifeless microphone. All are symbolic of tonight’s wonderful, joyous, brilliant chaos.

Also online @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/show-reviews/the-chariot-nottingham-uk

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