“It’s the festival of community. Community and unity, unity and peace, peace and love.”
And with those very words, Mega Aquarians’ guitarist and singer Des launches Sheffield’s biggest-sounding two-piece into their second thundering song of the evening. It heralds bleeding eardrums, grinning faces and sweaty bodies.
Those of us who aren’t in Mega Aquarians are packed into the Frog and Parrot’s more elevated confines. We’re uniformly transfixed by the audacious wall of sound that’s shattering our collective concept of what’s right and proper for half-past five on a Tramlines Saturday afternoon.
I happened to get there early, and caught a bit of the previous act. It was nice – apart from losing a couple of buttons squeezing in amongst the bodies. But next to the sound desk a young fella with an acoustic guitar was playing a cheery form of skiffle. People seemed to like it.
Then Mega Aquarians turned up with big sod-off Orange amps carried by hairy guys wearing Melvins t-shirts.
Flash forward half an hour and occasional Barnacle – and Tramlines institution – Stuart Faulkner is shouting “Motherfucking Mega Aquarians!” through a megaphone. The crowd wholeheartedly agrees.
Jump ahead another two hours and Mega Aquarians are playing another live set, this time in a bar on West Street that is full of people who’ve never heard of Mega Aquarians. The heaviest music this place usually sees is probably a Friday night singalong to The Killers or Biffy Clyro.
Still, Mega Aquarians destroy it. Grumpy, confused blokes in shirts suddenly start dancing around, playing air guitar and chest-bumping each other, after just two or three songs. Des shouts an occasional “Rock ‘n’ roll sexy party, yeah!” and they all cheer enthusiastically. In unison.
Their set opener ‘Special Beast’ shows their style and guts perfectly. It’s playful, energetic, psychedelic death metal with a groove so deep you need to be a massive doomlord to not love it. ‘Diazastra’ is a dissonant, melodic throwdown reminiscent of Jesus Lizard in places, Big Business in others.
Flash back two hours and a woman is peering through the front window of the Frog and Parrot. She’s confused by what she’s hearing. That’s right, it’s just the two of them making that sound. Loud, isn’t it?
So that was Saturday evening at Tramlines. Mega Aquarians, twice. And if by some weird interdimensional fubar, every band playing at every venue at Tramlines on Saturday turned out to be Mega Aquarians, we could all have had the joy of seeing one of Sheffield’s greatest bands.
You see, it’s very easy to get sentimental about this band – they have great pedigree, Marc’s drumming is a spectacle in of itself, and they have a lot of charisma on stage. But in all seriousness, if Mega Aquarians aren’t wholeheartedly loved and cherished by every self-respecting musician and lover of heavy music in this city, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
And if Marc and Des don’t get in the studio and record an album soon I’m going to sulk for a very long time. And I don’t think I’ll be alone*.
Words : Joseph McArthur Field.
Photos: Ben Marchant-Williams
*Editor’s note: no, you won’t be!
Read our Interview with Mega Aquarians right here!