13th September saw Port Mahon & The Cellar hosting this year's Winkstock. I can't actually remember if I went to last years. I think I was going to, but missed it. Anyway, this year I went, albeit missing the first 4 acts.
The first band I saw were the superbly titles You're Smiling But We'll All Turn Into Demons, who sound exactly like The Heads. I love The Heads, and ...Demons are a band who do this sound really well too. "This sound" being scuzzy sounding garage psychedelia with a nod to the late 60's and early 70's space rock jams. It would be better if they hadn't broken their bass drum halfway thru their set, which is a shame because although they're still really good, it always sounds like there's a layer missing from then on.
Chops are next, and the headliners of the Port Mahon leg of Winkstock '08. Chops consist of 2 guy's who go a bit mental on synths, vocals, a guitar, a saxophone and strange boxes, backed by a ridiculously talented drummer. You get the impression that the drummer is the glue who holds these guys together, and that if he weren't there, the other 2 would just devolve into a primal mess of pure sound, trying to outdo each other in a noise fight for the position of alpha male and possession of the most attractive female in the vicinity. As it is, this is a joyously structured mess. I'm just not sure how much of the headache it was worth.
On to The Cellar then for the second leg. First up, Elapse-O. I hadn't seen Elaspe-O for a while and was really looking forward to this. Shame they were so shit. YEAH RIGHT! They were fuckin' awesome! The last 2 songs of their set especially were amazing. If these guys don't get singed up to an indie in the next year then there is something seriously wrong. Come on, there's no point pretending anymore that people don't listen to this stuff. A niche market noise music may be, but that still means there's a market for it, and Elapse-O are probably one of the most exciting and original UK acts in this crazy old sub-genre.
Next up, Gentle Friendly, a keyboard & drums duo. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't like them. The whole thing just left me a bit cold and "whatever". And I can't shake the feeling that the drummer seems a lot better than he actually is because he's playing at about 400 beats per minute. The guy who plays bagpipes on Cornmarket Street in Oxford plays really quickly to try and cover up the fact that he's actually not very good and mistakes are less noticeable when they're at breakneck speed. It's probably unfair to level this accusation at the drummer from Gentle Friendly, because I couldn't actually hear any mistakes or slips being made, but then I did stop actively listening after the first couple of songs and went to join 'Caela and some mates off in an alcove for a chat and just let GF become background noise. I've focused on the drummer, because I can't really remember the keyboard player. I'm pretty sure his keyboard was white, and although I wasn't impressed with the sound that was coming from it, I couldn't actually tell you anything about that sound.
And so onto headliners Manatees. Manatees amps were stacked up to the ceiling. Manatees play slow, sludgy, loud metal in the vein of Isis. Manatees are really good. REALLY good. The pace never really picks up, so you get lulled into this hypnotic state, hanging on every decibel of the methodical chugging of atmospheric low-end intensity. These are no doom imitators we're dealing with, these guys have clearly meticulously studied doom, and worked out their place in it. Hence, they sound like Isis, but in no way sound like they're ripping off Isis. Or anyone else.
Why do I always seem to have more things to say about what I don't like than what I do?