Supersonic Festival presents Gnod – Total Luck – The Castle and Falcon – Birmingham – 28th April 2023
Last Friday Fighting Boredom headed to Birmingham, dodging roadworks and sat nav voice meltdowns to the Castle and Falcon where the lovely people of Supersonic Festival are putting on the brilliant Gnod and Total Luck. Read what we thought below.
Total Luck come onstage, and after a false start they go straight into a wall of noise, guitars, bass and drums, It’s clear and loud as Erin screams and sings. It’s a full on relentless sound and Danny is filling every gap in the spirit of Keith Moon. Then he stops and a throbbing drone takes over. Then they are off again with descending riffs like a post hardcore party, her vocal is strong and true, holding its own against the noise. There’s a touch of No Wave too, particularly Sonic Youth, which in my eyes is a bonus! The sound gets denser and the groove is very cool.
The next one has a slower start, clanging guitars and a lamenting vocal sounding like a track from a lost David Lynch soundtrack. Someone lost, covered in blood and terribly terribly sad. Drums and massive riffs come in, the drums erupt and the song goes bonkers, brilliant!
Conor and Erin swap bass and guitar, the track is bass led, drums, a massive bassline and feedback, Erin stands still, sings, and it feels like the songs going to explode, but it doesn’t, it stays right on the edge, as he plays the bass like a lead guitar but then it goes, hard core along with howls and a desperate vocal.
The drums batter in a fast cool track, it’s another hard core song and Conor sings, it’s an ace battering song and it morphs into a dance floor groove that is very nearly ska. Another strangely tuned Sonic Youth influenced song, atonal guitars and drums all over the place, the singer howling again, I really like this. He is screaming into the Mike now as the guitars, bass and drums crash against each other in a fast furious frenzy. It slows and they feel like they’re about to fall apart, and then they finish. A great set from a band I’m sure I’ll see again.
Gnod amble onstage, feedback ensues, the drums are slow and doom laden and the bass comes in very very low and very very loud. The guitar joins in, did I say it was distorted and fuzzed out to hell? Did I need to? There’s a growling vocal and it gets louder and harder but the speed doesn’t change. The sound is like a physical force. It stops and then starts again. It’s a huge grinding mess that is slowly moving forward obliterating and flattening all in it’s path. There’s another huge burst of feedback screams, the drums power in and the building feels like it’s coming down. There are vocals but then they are drowned out in the mass of sound, feedback and flashing white light is totally disorientating then the bass booms into the room again and it gets deliberately nasty again. A low disturbing vocal seeps into the music, it sounds angry and desperate but trying to be strong. The guitar sends out a high pure note and then it goes down into darkness and nastiness again, the guitars are everywhere, I dread to think how far this sound is travelling outside the room.
Gnod are post punk, post hardcore and post psych, what they do is get a feeling and a groove then amplify it as much as they can and mash it all into our heads. Then stick with that groove right up to the end. It turns bad somehow, nasty and itchy inside my head. Somehow it has switched to a restrained throbbing bass drone. Drums join in and increase the tempo, the bassline wobbles and the guitars just cut in with massive noise, a huge psych out again, throbbing mashing merging and howling. I put my hand out to pick up my drink and it’s vibrating on the table.
It’s fantastic. There’s a brief moment of quiet and then the sound picks up again. In front of us the lighting tech is having the time of his life, switching colours and spots with flourishes as he taps the keyboard in front of him. My ear has gone so it’s hard to tell if the sound is muffled because of that or because that’s what they are creating now. The massive detours of psychedelia continue, there are vocals happening but what they mean or and lyrics are lost to me. The jam switches to an angular, geometric post punk jam and then just gets more and more intense. This music is bloody furious. It fades and the sound seems tiny, prayer music comes through until it’s lost in another massive round of noise. Gnod are utterly mesmerising, this is ritualistic and pagan music, it’s huge and terrible, intimidating in it’s intensity and just a massive sound. But this is there’s and now from them, it’s ours. Our music. They go into another extended jam in which Hendrix seems to be playing alongside Black Flag and the madness descends. The music dies down and in a final howl of feedback it ends.
All words by Adrian Bloxham, all pictures by Martin Ward.