My friend warned me that last time he saw Kong, they were almost criminally loud. That in mind, I’ve brought some earplugs just in case. When I arrive, Trojan Horses are ignoring the audience and playing whatever it is that they play. The band looks like a weird face-off between Brian Blessed and a ‘hoodie’. The music’s alright, though.
The least enthusiastic response to “Hello Manchester!” ever isn’t really a fair description of the start of Castrovalva’s gig, as there simply isn’t ANY response at all. I’m very glad I did bring my earplugs though, as I don’t think I would be able to even hear Kong after half an hour of this astonishingly loud mentalness.
The threesome (drums, bass and vocals) make a surprising variety of sound, but the show doesn’t pull me in at all. Retreating from the stage for the sake of my aural health, I find Castrovalva sound much better through the little speakers in the far corner; and when you can’t see the band taking themselves seriously, it’s great. It’s like proper black metal with hilariously odd bits (and special guest appearances from an old woman off ‘South Park’) thrown in for comic effect. The music gets funnier as the show goes on, it’s quite enjoyable…from a distance.
As Kong are preparing to take the stage, my stomach is preparing for a most unpleasant night, so I don’t actually get to watch much of them. I could furnish you with a detailed review of the adequate, red-tiled toilet facilities at the Ruby Lounge, but duty calls, and I struggle up to the stage to behold Kong’s wild, masked (and in the case of the guitar player, ear defender-ed) presence in the flesh. I’m not sure whether it’s entirely worth the superhuman effort, but it certainly made an impression.
Kong’s sound is very stripped-down, quite atonal, grunge-y and pretty heavy. At points, unfortunately, it sounds like a band jamming out the seeds of ideas that ought to have been developed more before being brought to the stage – although conversely it is extremely well rehearsed. There’s very little in the way of chord progressions or melodies but lots in the way of shouting, crazy rhythms, noise and feedback.
It might just be the mild fever-induced delirium, but I find the whole night very strange – the bands don’t really seem to give a crap, and neither do the audience – but then I guess it’s not cool to care, and it is Sunday after all.