Despite this being my third night spent in the company of 65daysofstatic, I knew the night was going to be as unpredictable as the previous two. First there was the intimacy of the Sunrise stage at Latitude festival where Joe Shrewsbury balanced his guitar on his chin, second there was Bestival where the band could play in broad daylight on the main stage and now a night of brand new music of their latest album We Were Exploding Anyway.
The setting; The Junction, Cambridge. A gloomy, smokey area with an underground feel to it but without the stuffiness of similar venues. To honour the new direction of the sound of their latest album, 65daysofstatic’s support acts both hailed from an electronic background.
London three piece act Nedry were first to warm up the crowd. An unexpected mix of Portishead style shoegaze, the vocals of Björk or Spangle Call Lilli Line and soft, unintrusive dubstep. Once you could work out what this group were about, lurkers from the back drew closer as Nedry armed themselves with complicated trigger pads, electric guitars and manipulated their sounds live through the use of loop stations and various other expensive toys. The two men bobbed by their laptops looking ever so pleased with themselves, whilst singer Ayu flailed her limbs hither and thither; an energetic start to set the night.
Soon after came Loops Haunt, an act who I mistook for a roadie
getting a little too hands-on with the equipment. When it comes to the manipulation of sounds and the technical side of music,
this man knew what he was doing. In fact I was so impressed by his complete and utter control over the complex and busy sound he was producing without breaking a sweat, I half expected to look down to see everything unplugged whilst Loops Haunt scrolled through facebook on his laptop and played pre-recorded music to please the crowds. His tirelessness whilst constantly on the move from side to side of his table of gizmos showed that he was the real deal. DISCLAIMER - wear a nappy. The many layers of womps and wobbles of big beat hip-hop, dub and breakcore vibrate through the body so intensely that they may induce an unwilling bowel movement. Now, with that image in mind - on to the main act, who were quite the opposite of the picture now in your head.
Something I’ve always found about 65daysofstatic is that they are so intimidating to see live that you’re almost reluctant to stand at the front in case any physical harm is unleashed upon you. The band play their instruments so energetically and violently it’s as if the instruments have wronged them somehow. You knew that if you didn’t clap you’re hands when instructed to do so, you would probably die soon after.
As I had hoped and expected, the band heavily concentrated on showcasing the new material. The post-rock tag was shaken off by tonight's performance to an odd 50/50 mix of headbangers and ravers.
The pure energy of the band is astounding and contributes a large amount to the overall performance; guitar necks are yanked with every burst of sound and the drums are beaten half to death Travis Barker style.
It was a joy to see the more emphasised electronic aspects of the new music live. It was like watching a completely different band than at previous 65 gigs; this is the kind of music they clearly love to make and it felt right.
Despite the album being just over a week old, the audience responded to each song as if they were old classics. With choice selections from previous albums, it was the latest album that reigned supreme. The grand finale of ten minute long Tiger Girl was an epic build up to an euphoric explosion of noise provoking uncontrollable dancing from even the most reluctant awkward head boppers. The instruments were left to form an extended breakdown of digital feedback plus the ringing in my ears meant the final track lasted roughly six hours.
This is a performance that will certainly stick in my mind. Never have I seen such emotion invoked through pure instrumentation without the need for vocals. Not since Sigur Ros have I felt my spine tingle at the sheer epic sound being produced (apologies for the post-rock comparison).
The damage to my ears is probably irreperable, but I’m glad to say - so worth it.