Holy Fuck at Scala

15th May 2009 – 5.50 pm

As far as I am aware, Holy Fuck have only one album release and as it clocks in at a little over thirty five minutes I travel to the venue hoping I'll enjoy the songs I won't recognise to fill up what must be at least a one-hour set. Because of their mostly electronic sounds and reputation for using any old and beaten-up technology I am already unsure what to expect, both in terms of what I will see on stage and whether my awkward self will feel comfortable trying to bounce along with the solid grooves. But first, I manage to turn up shortly in to the support band's set.

I kick myself a little on the train in to London for leaving slightly late to get to the gig, because even though the quality of support acts is highly variable it is also the most reliable way to evaluate new bands. I may end up bored for half-an-hour wishing a band would hurry up and leave, but I have also seen some amazing support acts as well that I have gone on to see headline at later dates. When I get in to the venue I hear some fantastic fuzz drone over the PA system as I stroll over to the merchandise desk to see if Holy Fuck have a new release I can pick up.

There is only Holy Fuck's eponymous release on display, but alongside is the support band's album and I recognise the name. I am sure the NME gave It Hugs Back a decent enough review to catch my attention and it is quite handy to have their CD for sale at the gig, so as I hear the distorted guitars blast through the speakers I hand over a tenner before wandering inside to see the band themselves, hoping that I haven't just wasted my money. I shouldn't have worried, as It Hugs Back were gliding from song to song, extracting some big distorted sounds out of electric and acoustic guitars alike, whilst the keyboard player had more effects pedals than a Slowdive guitarist. I look forwards to becoming more familiar with their songs.

Watching Holy Fuck set up was interesting. It was comforting to see a traditional drum kit on stage along with a bass guitar, if only to give me something other than knob twiddling to look at, but the only other 'instruments' were two tables full of samplers, effects boxes and random objects that would produce some kind of signal to distort. There was even one item that I simply couldn't recognise, but which had some kind of ribbon or tape fed through it that made some kind of noise when it was pulled one way or the other.

When the band come on stage they start the set with Milkshake, the recognisable samples being squeezed out of one of the boxes being tweaked by the two front men, standing sideways on, rocking with the beat mostly provided by the aloof drummer. Other songs I recognise include the catchy Super Intuit and The Pulse, although they are sufficiently altered to provide an electrifying live experience, and the set is strung together smoothly and with enough energy to make any unreleased tracks seem as familiar as current favourites.

I had a little concern about Mr Centre-of-attention, the man who looked like he believed the gig was being thrown just for him, but when the beats start pounding through the amplifiers a mosh pit forms around him, and it is possible that his over-enthusiastic energy helped drive it. Mosh pits seem rarer than ever these days and it is fun to see one from the start of the gig and last until the end, and I didn't care that it means someone occasionally slams in to me.

The set ends with Lovely Allen, the crescendo of bass and samples causing stormy waves of motion through the audience, resulting in crashes of applause as the band leaves the stage. There is the inevitable encore, of course, but at least Holy Fuck must feel they deserve it. They come out to play a few more tracks, the bassist doing a good job having to work around only having three strings now. A quick change of batteries is required to get a small keyboard powered, during which time the drummer and bassist keeps everyone warmed up, before the electronic fanfare announcing Safari gets everyone charged again as the band say goodbye.

But it is not enough and the chant of 'one more song!' gets the band back to entertain further those not foolish enough to have left so quickly. Despite even more applause and calls at the end of the unexpected second encore there is no more Holy Fuck tonight. At least, not on stage. They electrified the atmosphere such that no one left the venue without being switched on to their grooves and electronic mayhem.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.