Thee Alcoholics | Polevaulter | Garbage Pail Kids
The Endless Hum, Shipley
23rd September 2023
The Endless Hum brings Thee Alcoholics, Polevaulter and Garbage Pail Kids to Shipley. Andy Brown shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.
Organised by a collective of music promoters and like-minded creatives, The Endless Hum is an ongoing series of specially curated gigs nestled away in the small market town of Shipley in West Yorkshire. With their usual abode of the Kirkgate Centre under renovation, the night has temporarily relocated up the road, to the cosy confines of the Beehive. While the Kirkgate Centre has a 100-person capacity, the Beehive is an even more intimate venue. Make no mistake, we’re about to get very up close and personal with tonight’s three acts. Arriving at the pub, we’re directed down some stone stairs into a basement-come-underground tavern. Pass the bar, push the Endless Hum flag to one side and you’ll enter a mini-Narnia. Albeit, one with more of a focus on DIY bands and less on talking lions and magical wardrobes. A Narnia for people who like experimental, underground music.
We’re lowered into the night with a set from Leeds-based duo, Garbage Pail Kids. Comprised of Yakkida! and Territorial Gobbing, the pair of experimentally-minded musicians perform using a tableful of lights, wires, synths, cassettes and other equipment. It’s like a low-key musical TARDIS made from foraged musical miscellanea. A free-flowing and defiantly avant-garde sound that comes across like disturbed kid’s music. Trumpton gone wrong, if you will. The sound of a synth falling down the stairs and hitting every setting as it goes. A plethora of dials and devices are used to create loops and a slightly unnerving yet knowingly ridiculous sound collage. Mr Gobbing occasionally sings unintelligible ravings into the microphone in helium-pitched tones. Gibby Haynes would most certainly approve.
Yakkida!, aka Hilary from LS6 stalwarts Cowtown, offers up a calmer yet no less traditional vocal as she harmonises to the bewildering, improvised soundscapes. It’s a ritual of sorts, based on fun, spontaneity and a healthy disregard for sanity. At one point, they attempt to summon some Lovecraftian cat god by ringing a tiny bell. Instead, we just get the return of Gobbing’s increasingly erratic helium demon. He gleefully smashes keys at random before the music eventually morphs into something ambient and unexpectedly lovely (for a while, at least). The duo look like they’re having an absolute blast and I honestly haven’t smiled this much during a performance in ages. This wouldn’t be everyone’s idea of a good Saturday night but I feel right at home. Avant-garde hijinks and surrealist silliness of the highest order.
Variety is most certainly the spice of life and tonight’s second act takes things in a much louder, more abrasive direction. Polevaulter is a Northern noise duo from Leeds that employs a seething mix of industrial electronics, bludgeoning bass and eye-poppingly angry vocals. The brilliantly named Pissed In The Baths sets the tone with a simple, yet brutally effective beat accompanied by some deeply aggravated talk/rant-style vocals. A pleasingly ominous and heavy sound, each track lunges and lurches as heads nod along in time. Vocalist Jon is wrapped in the microphone cable and divides his time between his synth and getting eyeball-to-eyeball with the crowd. Dan’s thuggish bass lines bombard our fragile frames as Jon yells like a man who’s just found a parking ticket clipped to his windscreen wiper.
After a few songs, the smoke machine kicks in, either that or someone is vaping themselves into oblivion. What starts as a bit of atmospheric smoke soon turns into a thick, billowing shroud that consumes the room. Bathed in red light and obscured by clouds, Jon yells his way through the monstrous Tony’s House. “I make the rules in this house” he yells as hell closes in. It’s a raw and brilliantly delivered set. A cathartic experience for the band and crowd alike. It’s great to see something like this in such an intimate setting, the whole night feels like a house party with experimental bands in place of the traditional Spotify playlist on shuffle. A house party where everyone’s really into the music and no one’s throwing up in the garden.
Next up, it’s time for London-based noise rock acolytes, Thee Alcoholics. We’re greeted by the slow, ominous crawl of Brainwash Box from last year’s Wrong Speed Records seven-inch. The buzz of feedback and an overwhelming sense of menace fills the space. There’s no escape now. We’re huddled into the small basement room and at the mercy of the band. They follow this up with the pounding, doom-laden and tightly wound Power. These songs are volatile and brimful of tension, making the explosive moments all the more cathartic. Oh my, these songs are explosive. The five-piece hits the small yet devoted crowd with a wall of sound and fury. Two guitars, synths and drums create nightmarish, no-wave loops of nasty, highly effective noise.
They don’t say all that much between songs, this isn’t about on-stage banter and disarming anecdotes. It’s about embracing the sound. The vocals remain low in the mix, threats and warnings sung through gritted teeth. The songs are stripped of any unnecessary accompaniments, no middle eight or big, singalong chorus here. What remains is filthy, raw and impressively intense. When the band locks into a groove, it’s devastating in the best way possible. We’re only two songs in when one of the guitarists is concerned that he’s broken his guitar but a snapped string or two isn’t going to stop a band like Thee Alcoholics. Politicians consumes us in a sea of pulsing, malevolent noise while the propulsive She’s The Man finds everyone nodding their heads along in time to the sonic assault. We’re all well and truly hypnotised.
Noise rock? No wave? Ultimately, it’s rock’n’roll played with an unwavering commitment to repetition and unyielding intensity. It’s impossible not to get pulled into the set when they all lock into a bludgeoning, two-note riff. Thee Alcoholics take you to a place where only the riff matters. The relentless, hypnotic and all-consuming riff. My god, it’s satisfying to be caught up in the bombardment. Imagine The Stooges songbook played by Drunk In Hell or the Osees if they’d been kept in a basement, starved of sunshine and grown dark and somewhat vicious. The set ends and I wish they could just start the whole thing all over again. It’s official, The Endless Hum have put on another absolute belter.
Buy a ticket for the next Endless Hum HERE.
Find Garbage Pail Kids on Bandcamp.
Polevaulter can be found on Facebook, Instagram, X and Bandcamp.
Thee Alcoholics are on Instagram, X and Bandcamp.
All photos by Jim Mumby.
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.
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