Halfing’s Leaf


Hollowed out beneath Thomas Street, from the basement of The Bay Horse comes a tremendous noise. It’s populated by long hair, leather jackets and tattoos, kick drums, wails and distorted guitar. Halfling’s Leaf, after three years are playing their final, farewell gig and it is in fact the first time I have seen them live, making tonight a unique, jet black snowflake.

First however are Tribal Fighters, whose intricate guitar greets me from beneath my feet. Tribal Fighters play a kind of floating math-rock, like Foals worn smooth and the first track ‘Weakened It’ although muffled by the pavement exemplifies this. All their releases to date have been groove driven, and without vocals, so it’s something of a surprise when before new track ‘Theresa’ the bassist proclaims ‘this one’s got singing’. A number of their newer tracks do, and they’re all fuzzy, direct rock ‘n’ roll; whilst the discordant feel of the new stuff may seem at odds with the melodic tweeting of their older material, the crescendos of the latter mirror the punky breakdowns and cranked up in a sweaty basement they sit together nicely. Last track ‘Babes vs Hunks’ is their most accomplished of the night, with loops, stop-starts, feedback and as it comes to a rousing close the guitarist turns away and turns back wearing a balaclava. The bassist hunches over before launching himself at a seated member of the crowd, promptly to be joined by his bandmate in some kind of indie-wrestler-pile-on.

Love Buzzards enter the basement to this; guitar in hand the two of them walk past me, past Tribal Fighters’ interconnected limbs and straight onto the stage. There’s a palpable violence in everything the duo do, as if every track could be used as evidence in a murder trial, and they both proceed to enthusiastically abuse their instruments, playing as hard and as fast as possible. The drummer particularly alternately gurns, throws his head back and mercilessly pounds away. So much so that towards the end of the set he looks like a dripping castaway; washed up, panting, bedraggled, Hawaiian-shirted. Both swathed in long sheets of hair and half-possessed they produce the kind of manic west coast noise that soundtracked so many skate videos; it’s a heavy, punk fuelled garage rock concerned mainly with being loud as fuck, and it is, rib ticklingly so. It’s easy to compare two-piece bands, they tend to follow a cranked up punk-blues blueprint, but Love Buzzard measure up well. They have hints of Jack White’s guitar and Sebastien Grainger’s drumming and ‘Build a Machine’ is a real highlight, sounding like the coming apocalypse itself.

I chat to Kevin, guitar and vocals, outside the gig who tells me they have a full length LP in the works, as well as a full tour. I highly recommend both when they materialise. I don’t see the drummer, presumably he’s somewhere rehydrating.

Halfling’s Leaf take to the stage for the last time and launch into a dark, plodding metal. Their performance, as you would expect, is nothing less than committed and it’s all balls-to-the wall as the five-piece clearly have a blast. They exclusively take requests from the crowd, ‘just don’t pick anything we can’t play’ (“we don’t do splinters any more… by don’t I mean can’t”). The guitarist looks incredible, long hair to the small of his back, resplendent in blue-and-white kimono complete with Fu Manchu and power stance. The performances are a little rough around the edges however, they themselves give one track ‘5/10’, but their enthusiasm is infectious as they have the time of their lives; singer stares bog-eyed into the faces of the front row and the bass player is incredible, fingers spidering impossibly up and down the fretboard. At one point he breaks into punchy slap bass, starting what sounds like a long forgotten James Brown number until it fades into feedback. They end with a killer solo and to cheers of ‘we want more’ but a CD plays, and the gig ends, and the crowd are left to mull on Halfling’s parting comments “It’s been a pleasure, It’s been kind of sweaty too”.

Halfling’s Leaf  Official | Facebook | Twitter

Tribal Fighters  Official | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

John Platt

John was raised between Mum's Motown and Dad's Hawkwind, and likes words almost as much as music. Below are some carefully chosen words about some music John particularly likes.