Japanese Sleepers + The Rocky Nest @ Stockroom – A testimonial
(editors’ note: We refuse to call this a review, it’s more a rant. Against better judgement, Sam left his recovery process on Friday. Hilarity and a huge dry cleaning bill ensued. – M & Q).
It was a Friday afternoon in the cold, unforgiving concrete jungle that is the area near the Stockroom. The place was slightly isolated and I was just brooding over some chemistry notes, having an ale.
The man behind the bar approached me. “you here for the bands?” I nodded, still feeling a bit sick. So against the doctor’s orders, I waited for a while until the whole thing started.
Some time after 10 pm, the whole thing started. There were a couple of people drawing in blank pieces of papers and a sign on the wall stating “The Rules”. Alarm bells were ringing. Was it the candy offered at the entry? Was it the crayons and pencils being bandied about? Or was it just a side effect of the medicine?
Damned if I knew, but then a band took the stage. A girl manning (womaning? Personing? Argh!) playing a floor tom (and some self-described “twee things” or so dixit their facebook), a violinist, a bassist, a guitarist/singer and a robot.
Not making that last up.
ANYWAYS, they said they were called Japanese Sleepers and they were having a good time on stage. After the first two songs, the robot showed his true form : a human inside (although I’m sure there was a tiny robot controlling the human, but then again, I was medicated…)
Andy (guitars) and Alexander (keyboards and robot antics) switched places after quipping about being “a disgrace” to the band. Careful, mate, don’t want to cross a cybernetic band member. The happy tunes from the beginning gave way to some introspective stuff, almost melancholic.
Then it was back to antics. Kinda felt bad by the end for Gemma (the girl on twee stuff). She seemed ready to go and pummel the life out of the floor tom but instead had to keep a low, sparse attack on it. I wanted to shout to her “Go mental on it! Screw the band! Do a Bonham on the godforsaken thing!”.
But so it goes. The set was finished and somebody in the public was dressed as Optimus Prime. A very tiny version of him. Michael Bay tricked me into believing he was tall!
After members of Japanese Sleepers high fived some people in the audience, they went on their merry ways, drinking cider in copious quantities.
Turns out the people delivering the high fives were members of The Rocky Nest. 3 took the stage. Then another 3. Then 2 more. Looking like a collective Mariachi band in a Mexican underground wagon (8 people packt like sardines in a crushed tin-y box stage – some law of time-space-continuum is getting broken) was not what they aimed for, but still seemed to be working for them, even if it meant leaving the poor girl on violin sitting precariously by the speakers. Think of her timpani!
This is were it gets tricky: the first song, the first impression. When it’s a band you’ve never heard of, the first song can be the deal breaker. And something got broken. It didn’t do it for me, I’m afraid. But any qualms I had were dispelled by the second song, where I honestly felt it was a whole complete different band.
First thought? They have been replaced by robots. But no, as the set progressed, it seems it was only the one song that wasn’t working but the rest seemed to be pretty fine, specially one strange song about going around in a bike and breaking your neck (!). Think of it as Queen doing a stark version of “Bicycle race”. With more bike horn, because, as THE Bruce Dickinson used to say, cowbell and horns are the things that elevate a song into a classic.
Audience participation was encouraged: foot stomping, clapping and hitting the microphone with an empty bottle of cider (!) were part of a very warm set, which although it had a few setbacks, the band worked with them, instead of against them.
Really, people were having a good time, and being frivolous with gigs, it’s all about having fun, innit? There was even a prize draw near the end of the set, based on who drew the best robot. If I’d knew that thing was going on, I would’ve drawn Terry Wogan. The prize would’ve been mine. Alas, “could’ve been a contender…”
So the set ended and as the DJ set started, I made my way home. A random stranger dressed up as Peppa Pig asks me why I leave. I fib saying that I’m allergic to Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ (a song everybody seem to be enjoying dancing to). Still, I stopped by to see the bartender (a certain Enit Pudweiser) and have a natter with him:
“Hey mate” I nod at him.
“What you think of the last band?”
“I’m sort of scared by them!”
“Why for, matey?”
“They said they were from Hell”
“No, man, they said ‘Hull’…” he says while pouring me a shot.
He laughed and we shook hands. As I was getting ready to leave, the stranger in the Peppa Pig costume pointed at me and 10 twee fans jumped me. Their leader, a girl with hair tightly tied in a bun, got out a marker and left The Mark of the (twee) Beast. A cohort put a “Pop-o-matic” badge on my denim jacket. They laughed and then they disappeared in a puff of black smoke, as I ran for my life until the end of the night.
What I learnt from this gig:
a) Robots can play deftly on keyboards, laptop, microkorg AND sing. I for one welcome our new robot masters. Here’s a case of Kopparberg cider and 10 virgins.
b) English people singing in Spanish (toda la “jente” en el autobus!) are as funny as Spanish people singing in English (all mai lobeeeeeen!)
c) Don’t fuck with Hull. Seriously.
d) Don’t nick a “pop-o-matic” badge unless you want to spend the rest of your weekend in a medication-induced rout. Karma’s payment, anyone?
About the author: all he has to say is REST IN PEACE, STOCKROOM.
The Rocky Nest
Pop-o-matic (gig organisers and all around nice people)