This was it. The Cloister Bell rang loudly and it beckoned them all: the hardcore fan, the converted and the odd chancer that wanted to say “I was at their last gig!”
Wet Nuns‘ last ever gig, a ceremony that would take place at Queens Social Road. Some people looked the part, others were partaking in photos with some of the celebrities mingling in the audience and the rest just wanted to be in the musical equivalent of a living funeral (only with more male nudity.)
A loud crackle and a bastard of a bass drum announced that Flaming Skulls were on stage and your attention was required, whether you wanted it or not. A two piece with a Northern twist on Desert Rock, it’s always a pleasure to watch this band, loud as hell, in a live environment; an armadillo pie smothered with Henderson’s relish. ‘Mingeron’ is a good starting piece to get the gist of this band, with a sound that is as like being surround by a murder of psychedelic crows.
Royal Blood looks are deceiving, but I think after Helmet happened, no one should expect a loud band to look like Dethklok. Their sound continued what Flaming Skull laid sonically, in a way Nelson Muntz would say “ha ha!” after you got your arse kicked in the playground. Their fiercest sounds, like ‘Out of the black’, made a couple of people approach the stage, crossing that horrible “half circle of nothingness” that sometimes happens in gigs. Some guy looking like Vyvyan Basterd from The Young Ones tries to start a solo mosh pit, but no one joins him. It matters not, he’s enjoying himself, sometimes shouting at the band and Royal Blood make a dent that no amount of bodywork will cover. Keep an eye of these feral kids.
After the dynamics set by both Flaming Skulls and Royal Blood had finished, Loom had the hard task of main support. It’s less hard rock and more garage punk, with a lead guitarist flailing around like Aaron North from The Icarus Line used to do. Brash and chaotic, Loom was probably the Marmite band of the night: some loved them and some (like my friend who accompanied me) thought they seemed too calculated and clinical. Me? I think they were good but need a second outing for a final verdict, but ‘Lice’ and ‘Bleed on me’ are surefire keepers.
Everyone barricaded the front. It was the final half hour or so Wet Nuns would play ever (unless someone pulls a miracle) so everyone wanted a piece of the action or a gulp of the bottle of sour mash whisky drummer Leki Gotts was offering as a final libation to the ones closer to the centre of the stage. I’m particularly fond of ‘No Death’ and joined the crowd with every single “woo hoo!” exhaled like a rebel yell.
As much as people were having fun, like the guys from Loom moshing in the front with all the revelers or that girl that came with a cardboard that asked Leki Gotts to show his tits, there was a sombre feeling around. For all the flashing lights, distorted notes and kicks to the shins, that feeling of dread pervaded, even during the strongest Wet Nuns moments like ‘All the young girls’ or ‘Broken Teeth’. I guess what everyone had on the back of their minds was pushing forward with every minute, lashing out the harsh truth that the band was entering a pyre like Sita in the Ramayana (go read it, kids.)
An encore that for a moment seemed an impossibility happened. Two songs, closing with ‘No Money Blues’ and one last bodysurfing trip for both members, Robert and Leki, carried by their fans while serpentine bits of shredded paper fell from the ceiling. It was a momentous event this, as sometimes the passing of a band ends up being more of a whimper than a bang. Though we will never know what would album number two would’ve brought or how the band would continue to change, we happen to know how, for 3 or so years, they managed to have their blood soaked cake and eat it too. It’s been a ride and when the end happened, fans (casual, hardcore and stalkerish) got what they wanted.
Thanks for the jokes, the hillbilly accents and the music. We shall miss you.
Mediocre prose & terrible photographs: Sam J. Valdés López