Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Live Review: Witchrider / White Miles / Truckfighters @ Sound Control, Manchester, UK. 11th November 2014

Truckfighters Live Review
Sound Control 11th November 2014
Support from White Miles and Witchrider

In the basement of Manchester’s Sound Control, things are eerily quiet. Outside traffic revs, people bustle, a train thunders past, rattling along the tracks. Inside however, Ozo and a smattering of other tour crew members mill about, almost in complete silence, casually arranging the merch stand and loading gear onto the make-shift stage. It’s only an hour or so before the doors are flung open and fans – and a shivering draft – flood into the basement, a room usually reserved for club nights.

Tonight a stage has been assembled in one corner of this humble room, with the Truckfighters’ drum kit perched high above the rest of the stage slotted in the only real place there’s room for it. Pillars stand throughout the room, a small sound desk positioned towards the back with a bar running adjacent to the stage.

By the time Witchrider take to stage, the room still feels very much empty. There was no real rush of people as the doors opened, but those who did arrive early are treated to a solid set from the Austrian occult-tinged rockers; a band who are showing a real, distinct promise. Embarking on their first tour outside of their homeland, they deliver their set with a confident but never cocky swagger, front man Daniel conveying that same, striking bolshiness ever-prevalent in Josh Homme.

Their songs are wrapt in an aura, as hazy as it is nightmarish, that is simply impossible to ignore. From the gorgeous and melodious peaks of ‘Far From You’ sung with real heart - to the frantic fuzziness of ‘She Devil’ and the hip-shaking strut of ‘Witch-Hunt’, you find yourself wrapped around their sound. Guitarist HP peppers leading nuances atop clever stoner rock rhythms; these are songs that are tailor made to be blared out in a whisky stained strip club. One of 2014’s finest new acts.

Fellow Austrians – although they’ll lead you to believe that they’re from Madagascar for some unknown reason – White Miles pick up where Witchrider left of, albeit to a much fuller room. A two piece consisting of guitarist/vocalist Medina Rekic and drummer Hansjörg Loferer, they come bursting from the seams with an unbridled energy surpassing that of a birthday party of sugar-addled children. Medina launches herself across the stage, wrestling with her Telecaster as if it was trying to kill her. Hansjörg meanwhile pummelled the living crap out of his kit.

Sonically they were raw and unkempt. Feedback, a dirty tone and the harshness of the vocals only added themselves admirably to the chaos of it all. It was like getting attacked by sandpaper, it was rough and it really fucking hurt, but in a sadistic way you bloody loved it.

Their energy was infectious. By the time they stumbled off stage, their limbs flopping about like strawberry laces, smiles beaming on their faces, you couldn’t have been any more pumped for the main attraction.

The Truckfighters’ Fuzzomentary that tells the story of how the band turns into fuzz monsters every time they step out on stage, as it turns out, isn’t quite the work of fictitious wonder you lead yourself to believe. Bare-chested, guitarist Dango looks like the evil twin brother of Airbourne’s Joel O’Keefe, a twin brother they locked away from civilised eyes in the attic, where he became feral, living off mice and whatever other unlucky sods crawl about up there. Drummer Enzo looks like a giant behind his kit. He is a true entertainer too, spinning his sticks, whipping out little bits of wizardry throughout the show. Ozo is a little bit more composed, more serene, delivering his vocals with a slightly more unassuming passion. Collectively, you can tell their one and a half decades together have seen them grown tighter than a duck’s arse.     

Set opener ‘Desert Cruiser’ is a huge surprise, with most expecting to hear something from ‘Universe’ first. It delighted every single fucker in the room, turning the place into a party at the flick of a switch. What unfurled for the next hour or so was fuzz rock majesty.

‘The Chairman’ and ‘Get Lifted’ were astounding, the crowd firmly behind every note. You couldn’t keep Dango still as he ran rampantly around the stage, into the crowd, pulling crazy faces and, in all, proving, for those dismissive of academia and expansive research, that we are all indeed descended from apes.

It was fun, messy, energetic and, just as it was with White Miles, completely and utterly infectious. Ebola has absolutely nothing on Truckfighters. What a night.    

Words: Phil Weller
Photos: Phil Goddard