It was a relatively busy start to the week gig-wise, with 65daysofstatic on Sunday night (@ Koko) and Scout Niblett on Monday (@ Bush Hall).

The 65daysofstatic bill is a pretty bizarre one: the synthnoisepunk of Rolo Tomassi, followed by metallers The Mirimar Disaster, then the devil-baiting guitarscapes of Josh T Pearson, a particularly incongruous interlude by London grime MC Lethal Bizzle, and then headliners 65daysofstatic who I’ll lazily describe as Explosions-In-The-Sky-on-speed (rather than just use the equally lazy Mogwai-meets-Aphex-Twin comparison that gets bandied about). It makes some sense when realising that Rolo Tomassi & The Mirimar Disaster are both from 65daysofstatic’s hometown of Sheffield, and that Lethal Bizzle is probably on the bill playing to an audience of (mostly) whiteboy rock fans because if he were on a Grime bill the gig would likely be shut down by the police (see Timeout London’s ‘Grime Stoppers’ article), but it makes for an ‘eclectic’ evening’s entertainment.

Josh T Pearson - Koko 20-05-2007I was pretty taken by Josh T Pearson’s performance at the Dirty Three-curated ATP festival (and have had Lift To Experience’s “The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads” on regular rotation since), and so was really looking forward to seeing him again. He only gets to play three songs, and although he plays like a man possessed the sound mix does him no favours, so I’m left feeling a bit disappointed – but in the words of Pearson himself “that’s just the way that life goes…”. I’m just happy that he’s no longer in self-imposed exile in a shack somewhere in Texas, and is sharing his stand-up comedy skills (“my beard has its own MySpace page”) and his intense songs of angels versus devils with the rest of us. Let’s have that solo album Josh!
(DiS has a recent interview with Josh here)

65daysofstatic is a band I haven’t quite fallen for – I find their hyperactive blend of post-rock guitar pyrotechnics and IDM-influenced beats an initially intriguing but insufficiently varied one, which can make sitting through a whole 65dos album pretty gruelling. They are however an impressive live band, really energetic and with an amazing drummer who I can only assume is an android or somehow otherwise bionic – yes, those beats are played by something that resembles a human! They start with “Await Failure” and play an intense set, which although weighted towards new album “The Destruction Of Small Ideas” is nicely peppered with songs from their entire back catalogue. The high point for me comes in the middle – “I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood” is followed by the poignant “Radio Protector” (“for any of you who were bullied at school”), which has the crowd swarming around in front of the stage in a display of enthusiasm I don’t often see from London audiences.

Listen to 65daysofstatic at Monotreme Records, or check out these videos on their own website

I think Scout Niblett is pretty amazing. There are those that write her off as a PJ Harvey or Cat Power clone but they’re just not getting it – for me she supersedes both by combining the best of what they’ve got to offer (PJ Harvey’s rawk and Cat Power’s stark emotional fragility), mixing it up with a healthy dose of off-the-wall wig-wearing weirdness (although she hasn’t sported her once-trademark blonde wig for the past two gigs I’ve been at). And that voice… it is certainly reminiscent of Chan Marshall’s, but mixes in some of the petulant-child-shrillness of Joanna Newsom, packing real emotional weight at both a scream and a whisper (check out this edit of her cover of Palace Brothers’ “Trudy Dies” to hear it in all its unadorned glory).

Scout Niblett - Bush Hall 21-05-2007

She opens with new single “Dinosaur Egg”, whose quirky lyric comes from an ‘imaginary album’ by artist David Shrigley: “Dinosaur egg, oh dinosaur egg / When will you hatch? / I’ve got a million people coming on Friday / And they expect to see a dinosaur / Not an egg”.
We then get two (great) new songs, before “Good To Me” and “Lullaby For Scout in 10 Years” (both from “Kidnapped By Neptune”). She is on record as saying it was Kurt Cobain who inspired her to start playing guitar, and that influence is evident both in the sparser fingerpicked lines as in the full-out balls-to-the-floor riffage (OK, ‘balls-to-the-floor” is not exactly the most appropriate description for a female performer, but hopefully you get what I mean…).

She plays two more new songs – one of which on the piano situated at the foot of the stage, right in amongst the audience – before moving over to the drum kit, and (after needing a bit of help from the audience to remember the melody) launches into “Pom Poms” – she’s so right, I really could do with someone to spell out my name… So does anyone know a cute girl with some pom poms?
Some devoted fans have made a “Truckers” banner, and with Scout still on drums we duly get “It’s All For You”, for magicians! musicians! lovers! and the truckers! Scout then moves back to guitar for “Newburyport” with its grungey intro that dissolves into the stark repetitive vocal line “I was there with my baby, yeah” wistfully recalling past / passed love. After another new song, she closes with “Hot To Death”, but the crowd won’t let her go that easily and she re-appears for a two song encore of “No-one’s Wrong (Giricocola)” and “Miss My Lion”, which sends us out into the night singing “when we get home, it’ll be like a party…”

Scout Niblett - Bush Hall 21-05-2007

This version of “Miss My Lion” (taken from her split 7” with Songs: Ohia) better captures how this song sounds in a live setting, as opposed to the version that appears on “Sweet Heart Fever”.

Scout Niblett – Miss My Lion (Alene Had It All translation)

Secretly Canadian has a couple of Scout Niblett mp3s available for your perusal:

Epitonic also has a couple of songs from “Sweet Heart Fever” here, and the three songs off the new “Dinosaur Egg” single can all presently be heard on Scout’s MySpace page.

Check out some photos from Scout Niblett’s Hallowe’en 2005 show in London (where she played with the inimitable Todd Trainer of Shellac).