65daysofstatic with Thought Forms & Chiyoda-Ku | Live Review

We’re humans with our own agenda, not iPods…

Punctuating the flickering lights Chiyoda-Ku took their places onstage, the fading applause leaving a palpable tension as the silence was quickly consumed by opener ‘Without A Question He Has All The Answers’. From there on in Chiyoda held the crowd in their hand, playing a mixture of tracks from their recent release ‘Bread and Circuses’ as well as some new tracks that show a band maturing with aplomb. Though self-confessed as a math-rock band Chiyoda exhibited several experimental moments; both Charlie and Toby using their instruments to great effect, filling The Phoenix with a veneer of looped guitars and taut drum work. In the short time they were onstage Chiyoda-Ku took everybody by surprise, their unique brand of controlled pandemonium left a mark that will not be easily forgotten.

Second band on tonight, Thought Forms were simply a name to me before hearing them onstage, other than a vague description from a friend I had nothing to go on other than ‘eastern’ and ‘drones.’ Such a description is honest, but somewhat disrespectful of a band that creates music that is unconventional, sometimes uncomfortable, yet engaging and original. The sounds that erupted from the stage were something I hadn’t heard live, the combined vocals of Romijn and Dhariwal were beautiful and haunted, the sweetness of Romijn’s melodies provided juxtaposition to the abusive and arid landscape created by the three-piece. At times I found myself drifting into some semi-conscious state, watching but not seeing and then feeling as though I was waking up and hearing everything clearly once more. At other times Thought Forms tested me too far and I found my attention waning, waiting idly for some dynamic change. However, I think it’s to Thought Forms credit that they offered no respite, this band wouldn’t be where they are now if they gave people what they thought they wanted.

Tonight’s headliners have evaded me for quite sometime, despite being pioneers of the post-rock scene in the UK. After missing out on ArcTanGent last year I felt it was about time to finally let 65daysofstatic into my life. Avoiding the urge to digest their wealth of material in preparation for the show I decided to go in cold, an experience that is very rarely enjoyed but always worthwhile, and what followed can only be described as a continuous aural surprise. Chiyoda-Ku and Thought Forms had shocked us all with the level of noise that their stripped back line-ups could create, but 65 were deafening. All concept of crescendo or tension, or the age-old post-rock aesthetic of quiet/loud was redefined, even moments where a crescendo was obviously imminent, the level to which it was delivered was an altogether different beast.

Yet the weighty set was not without its issues, both technical and personal. Frontman Joe Shrewsbury valiantly interacted with the audience as technicians scurried about the stage trying to fix a faulty bass guitar, his northern cynicism a more than amiable characteristic. However, unfortunate inundation from some members of the audience highlighted Shrewsbury’s concerns with the industry and a band’s purpose. After repeated berating from a birthday boy desperate for his favourite song to be played, Shrewsbury simply said, “We’re humans with our own agenda, not iPods… You’re twenty-four, you’re going to have to get used to disappointment.’

Despite Shrewsbury’s humorous banter and 65’s incredible performance, I couldn’t help but feel slightly sad for them. Throughout their set there were raised voices during their quieter moments, audience members yelling out like they were at a comedy show. This coupled with the general dissatisfaction that Shrewsbury voiced about their label and their incompetence to understand why bands like 65 go out on the road made the whole experience slightly hollow. There is a humility that I witnessed whilst chatting briefly with 65 at their merch stand before the show that really got to me. Here is a band that has the right to proclaim themselves giants in their genre, but instead they choose to simply do what they love and thank those that support them.

Watch the video for ‘Radio Protector’ right here: