Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Show: Raw Power at Corsica Studios

On Sunday I found myself making a last minute dash to the Raw Power all-dayer held at Corsica Studios in Elephant & Castle. To be honest most of the line-up was a complete mystery to me and it was my first time venturing South of the river for a show since last Autumn, but a day unpacking my suitcase, chain-washing bundles of clothes and food shopping wasn't the most appealing cure for the post-holiday blues, so off I went, avoiding reality for another 24 hours.

With a line-up littered with the odd familiar face but mainly new names, there wasn't the usual pressure to run from stage to stage, and the afternoon was spent eating hotdogs, catching up with friends and getting lost in the maze that is the three stage rooms of Corsica.

After a lot of music-watching at 1234 the day before I was pretty slack at picking myself up from my chair to watch all of the sets on offer, but Bo Ningen were their usual terrifyingly brilliant selves; splitting eardrums in a wash of feedback and hammering jams, their faces covered in the shadows of long, dark hair.

There were also many interesting performances on the acoustic stage, with many duos and bands multitasking their way through meandering instrumentals and peeled back songs, left bare without the usual distortions and effects and the ideal setting for a Sunday afternoon retreat.

But there was one band there that stood apart from everything else, not just on the bill that day but apart from a lot of current music in general. I've always been a sucker for a bit of distortion and Beat Happening-style simplistic, shambling fun, but at times a band will appear that will shake home just how important meticulously crafted song-writing and musicianship can be. Race Horses, a five-piece (who may or may not all be) from Wales, quite literally stopped me in my tracks as I navigated my way through the room, heading for refreshments.

Beginning with new song 'Furniture' (I think), the room was suddenly transformed into what I can only imagine Jarvis Cocker's kitchen must sound like – the clatter of pans, vocal patterns that dance around the walls and a side helping of eccentricity served up with the catchiest of choruses. There were at times two drummers, various instrument swapping at intervals and a frontman who appeared both awkward and entirely at ease in front of the stampede, and yet there were no gimmicks or frills, just a strong set that silenced the nattering crowd and swiftly left a lasting impression on my memory.

After returning home to do some research I think they also played the new songs 'Sisters' and 'Mates', and finished on a beautiful song I didn't catch the name of, closing with a simple vocal refrain sung in Welsh that almost made me have a little cry (please note I was just a tiny bit hungover, but still...). It'd be too lazy of me to chuck in a bunch of comparisons as although they sample all the best aspects of Nineties pop and indie's playful side, it's a world entirely their own. My only regret is not making it to the merch table in time to pick up a record - hopefully they'll play London again soon.

You can listen to their recent Mark Riley session here, and find out more over on Facebook.

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