25th July | Rough Trade
Photos: Laure Noverraz
Snapped Ankles‘ description of themselves, while short, is surprisingly definitive. Hailing themselves as “AGRROcultural PUNKTRONICA” details the four elements that form their bristling aesthetic. ‘Agricultural’ for their affinity towards the environment and nature – as we’ll explain later – ‘AGRRO’ and ‘punk’ for their seething sound and ‘electronica’, summoning the more rhythmic and eclectic essence of the group. Live, the four-piece awaken such spirits and mould them into a scintillating set that tonight riles up a warm Rough Trade.
On first impression, it may seem that Bad Tracking are deliberately aiming to shock with their performance. Max Kelan is stark naked, a ball gag strapped firmly around his neck. As soon as they begin, the crowd gasp and laugh as they reach for their phones,
unable to process what’s happening in front of them without some sort of document. Yet as the set continues, and Bad Tracking’s incessant, blistering techno envelopes the room, the crowd begin to understand; it’s something feral, primal and unyielding. Kelan’s screams are eviscerated within the slashing industrial beats they dictate, like a voice unable to communicate, getting more and more frustrated at a sense of voiceless abandon.
It’s a set that follows no uniformed reason but is uniquely individual and improvised. The noise escapes from cassette tapes, heavily mangled and thrust back out through feedback-laden industrial beats. As the crowd unabashedly rock back and forth, Kelan strangles himself with the microphone lead and chucks cassettes across the room, draping the crowd in tangled tape.
Bad Tracking intend on antagonising and breaking stale normalisation, embracing the animalistic and human nature of something uniformly created, crafted and altered by technology.
Bedecked as if from the swamps of a far-off planet, rather than deep in London, Snapped Ankles also embrace a penchant for naturalism in a completely separate sense. While the band hover over the audience, undoubtedly staring deep into the souls of those who are watching them, even though you cant see the whites of their eyes, it’s not an alarming performance. It’s fun in a welcoming manner, taking your mind away from the morbid nature of modern life and embracing a different vision.
Their performance is defined by their environmental aesthetic, taking themselves away from them the hyper-modern nature of city life and creating something much more ritualistic and surprisingly natural. They hypnotise with their specially-crafted instruments, wooden logs formed around their microphone stands that are manipulated in sound by electronic phases, it’s rhythmic tone a consistent blast of sharp, artificial beats.
Taking up position on the floor in front of the stage, they are utterly mesmerising performers. They delve into the crowd with their instruments, the bassist deep within a moshing crowd as he continues to ride out a rolling hook that insists on keeping everything under control. The front man beguiles those at the front, forcing the microphone in front of one audience member who proceeds to scream “Yeah!” in adoration.
While having frequently been defined as being kraut-heavy in their approach to rhythm, Snapped Ankles possess something much more gyrating and electronically-influenced. They snap from raucous noise into a funky catchiness. It keeps the crowd infatuated throughout and adds something more to their sound as a whole.