A small but enthusiastic crowd managed to push past the bars on Hood St, resist the lure of Ed Sheeran and Lynyrd Skynyrd covers, to swing around the corner and reach Altitude & Gravity Bar. On a damp Thursday night in Hamilton, this happened to be the venue for some good ol’ fashion originality and eccentricity.
What else is one able say about the New Millennium Beatniks that hasn’t already been revealed by the probing Mutchison Hiller documentary “Symbolic Headgear”? On this particular night, the Altitude Bar was graced by a full line up of beatniks who filled the stage and soaked the venue with a genuinely free and unrestrained musical performance. The audience watched on as the band produced music to match, respond and sonify Richard Selinkoff’s poetry performance stanza by stanza. Stand out performance came from Chelsee’s discordant guitar playing and her typical effortless delivery which really elevated the show and served to ensure that the anti-conformity that once characterized beatnik jazz, was still very much evident thanks to the punk rhythms and angular tones of her playing.
Next up was The Goth and The Pixie, Hamilton’s hardest working duo (although for this performance they were joined on drums by beatnik Lott Larsson). This band have really evolved over the last 12 months, not allowing themselves to be restrained by any one particular style, frequently switching things around with different instrumentation and writing an impressive range of original compositions. Now electric, the set was awash with clever effects, delicate bowing, cute ukelele and an all out Eddie van Halen lead break! A constant in their live performance is the interplay between darkness and sweetness, in which dark lyrics are to be found veiled by the gentle nature of their melodies. The occasional song seemed to loiter a bit too long, but this almost appeared a conscious decision to let their music creep up slowly on poor innocent listeners.
Northland’s Hide and Tallow returned to the Tron for a third time this year. The man is simply a genius and quite possibly the most coordinated performer on the planet. My best efforts to describe what he is capable of have ended with a description of a Frankenstein-esque monster and assemblage of body parts owned by different virtuosos. Watching Hide and Tallow live is like witnessing Keith Moon on the drums. Yet there is a twist. While the right foot is kick drumming the left leg has talent of Ray Manzarek concentrated within it allowing him to play keys with his feet. All this occurs while he balances unsteadily on his drum stool and wields his mic stand like Iggy Pop to deliver lines like “Ones' tanning hide, From this rigid heat. Those yellowing eyes, From the filthy drink” as if channelling the spirit of Samuel Coleridge.
Last but not least, a masked Glass Shards takes the stage, bearing the appearance of Slipknot and Marilyn Manson bastard child, to take up his position between an impressive bank of dials, buttons, pads and drums. The intensity evident in each act gets dialled up to ‘unwise’ and so eyes begin to bleed, eardrums burst and faces begin to melt (as promised on the poster). Mind-bending noises, glitches and screams cap off an eclectic evening of musicians that were perfectly grouped for their candid performances – not an Oasis cover in earshot. Gee Ttochs