By Simon Shoulders, Rock At Night London Correspondent
Venue: The Fulford Arms, York–June 24, 2017-Snakerattlers Album Launch with Black Lagoons, Sly Persuaders, and Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies
Once in a while giving old Fortuna’s Wheel a bit of a spin works out nicely. Sometimes very nicely indeed. It just so happened that we’d booked a weekend away in York. Then it just so happened that the Sly Persuaders mini-tour happened to be passing through York the very same weekend, and it just so happened that led us to the Fulford Arms where we stumbled across the launch party for the Snakerattlers album, “This is Rattlerock”.
The Snakerattlers are husband and wife duo, Dan Oliver Gott, and Naomi Gott, former members of the Franceens and now the purveyors of the finest, and perhaps most sinister death-punk rockabilly you’re likely to find. In addition to performing as the Snakerattlers, Dan and Naomi also run Behind the White Door, a not for profit organisation that brings new and unique bands to York to play whilst also supporting local acts and creating a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the music. It’s Behind the White Door we had to thank for the exquisite selection of music on offer on Saturday night.
Usually the first band to grace the stage at the beginning of an evening’s entertainment is one that’s building their experience and confidence performing live, often to a thinly spread crowd dominated by bar staff and band members from the acts yet to play. It turns out no-one at the Fulford received this particular memo. The Fulford is packed for regulars, The Black Lagoons. The crowd is an intriguing mix with a smattering of ageing punks, with more product-laden, immaculately coiffured quiffs than the average Elvis impersonators convention.
As the evening’s entertainment kicks off, The Black Lagoons waste no time launching in to some ferocious surf-infused garage rock. It’s good stuff, in fact, very good stuff indeed. There’s just the right level psyched out fuzz in the guitars to temper the gentle nod to 60’s instrumental-rock lurking behind the picking and the bass-line. The result is something gloriously heavy and perhaps when considered in combination with the considerable stage presence of front man Harry Clowes and the excellent drumming of Jamie Fish driving the pace of the tracks, is something altogether more “swamp” than “surf”. With the Black Lagoons it’s clear there’s a lot more fun to be had with mud, rather than sand between the toes! This is a really young band that shows great promise and I hope they’ll be coming down to London to perform soon.
It’s not often that the first act sets the standard for the rest of the evening, but that’s exactly what The Black Lagoons did. Their performance was both greatly appreciated by and energised the crowd so the next band up, The Sly Persuaders, did not have an easy act to follow. The Sly Persuaders are a London based-band on the Roadkill Records label, made up of (mostly) northerners, and were in York on the second night of a short weekend tour taking in Leeds and York. It’s been about 18 months since their eponymous album was recorded (and subsequently released in late February this year) so there’s new material beginning to creep in to their sets, and the combination of being out of town for a weekend, and the not inconsiderable pressure of following The Black Lagoons afforded the opportunity for a little experimentation. Whilst the Sly Persuaders sound is solid garage-rock to the core there’s plenty of layers to savour especially in the quasi-rockabilly, 50’s feel to front man and guitarist Chris Blake’s vocal delivery (and hairstyle – the quiff fits in well in the Fulford!) and the richly textured and theatrical drumming of Alex Bone which drives and adds punch many of the Sly’s tracks. Tonight however there’s a slightly different feel. Everything’s just that little bit sharper, the band’s delivery is that little bit more staccato, and harder-edged with a relentless pace. This really suited and enhanced the impact of “Wild for the Night” and closing track “Watch and Learn” but perhaps didn’t allow the space for Chris to make the most of his vocals in “Steve McQueen”. This is a band that is getting restless and starting to find the edges and push on the margins of their existing repertoire and whose sound is clearly undergoing a phase of growth and evolution. There are almost certainly exciting developments to come…
Next up were a band that for the name alone are worth tracking down. Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies. Yes, you did read that correctly, they’re named after Pete’s Mum who was a dinner lady at Oakfield School in Widnes and are like nothing you’ve seen before. Their sound is a blend of stonkingly catchy, punky-pop rock’n’roll and lyrics showcasing a distinctly mischievous and particularly Liverpudlian take on everything from people who let the music press tell them what bands to listen to in “Hip Potater”, to the danger of drug abuse in ‘Dead’s Not Punk” via a wry look at partying “Liverpool Style” in “Concert Square”. “Goth Postman” had me (and almost the entire crowd!) screaming to the chorus, but it the defining song of the set for me was “Queen Victoria’s Knob” with lyrics along the lines of “It’s big and black and down the docks, Queen Victoria’s Knob! Queen Victoria’s Knob!” (cue more raucous audience participation…) telling the tale of how when the revolution begins, it’ll start in Liverpool and the password will be “Victoria’s Knob”. For those not yet acquainted with the Liverpudlian sense of humour, there is a statue of a certain monarch in Derby Square and in her right hand she holds a sceptre, but from a certain angle the position of the of the aforementioned sceptre is such that it appears that the long-reigning royal is sporting an impressive, if somewhat unexpected appendage (hence the subject of this song). It’s not all about the storytelling though, don’t get me wrong Pete’s songs are witty and laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s the “Dinettes” the dancers that accompany the band that take the whole performance to a heightened level of surreality, all I’ll say is that they can really handle their sausages! You have been warned!
The last act of the night, whose album launch we’re all here to celebrate are the Snakerattlers. In contrast to the previous acts filled the stage with kit and artists, the duo that is Snakerattlers have a very minimal set up creating a lot of empty dark space on the stage which the lighting rig appears reluctant to penetrate. Naomi stands at a stripped down drum kit, and Dan takes up position with his guitar at a mic-stand facing her across the stage as together they launch furiously in to their set. The Snakerattlers create a compelling sound that whilst lo-fi, is savagely full-bodied and loud enough to wake the dead. Naomi’s bare drumming style works as the perfect foil to Dan’s powerful blend of rockabilly, surf-rock and punk-drenched guitar playing and roaring vocals. Together they produce the kind of face-meltingly savage rock’n’roll that no crowd can ignore. A great example of where the pair made use of the wide open spaces it’s possible to conjure using their stripped-back approach was “Rattle Rock Stomp”. Starting up with a slower drum beat brought the tempo down and created the open space in the track in to which the sinister figure of Dan sidled unhurriedly from the darkness at the edge of the stage. Hunched over his guitar and delivering languid surf-infused guitar-licks as he advanced with a thunderous expression on his face and exuded the perfect caricature of of pure malice. Upon reaching the microphone, the expected spite-fuelled and darkly vitriolic lyrics were not what Dan spat at the crowd, but instead he unleashed a cacophony of guttural howling and other indescribably primal noises that told a hate-filled tale of love (or perhaps lust) lost far more effectively that words could have. If you ever wondered what werewolves rocked out to, this track would definitely have been on the play list! The crowd was completely enthralled and I am sure there was many a convert that left the Fulford clutching a copy of “This is Rattlerock” and wearing a massive grin – I was certainly one of them.
All in all a great evening with some great performances. Behind the White Door’s careful curation of acts sharing the odd casual nod towards the more surf-infused, rockabilly leaning side of music’s rich melting pot coupled with the really good sound quality at the Fulford made for a cohesive and highly enjoyable nights entertainment. Sometimes it’s worth risking a bit of a shot in the dark to explore new venues and even whole new music scenes. Who knows what you’ll find…
- Aither’s Theme
- Rattle Rock Stomp
- Won’t Hold Back
- Let You Go
- Rattle Rock Rumble
- Oh My Love
- Do the Rattlerock
- Lose My Mind
- Love In Me
- Devil In Your Soul
- Death Valley Drive
- Ouga Bouga
- Sweet Sixteen
- Ripper Rattle Rock
BBC Introducing Interview and Live Session
The Black Lagoons
- I am your guest
- In your teeth
- Jumping Joe
The Sly Persuaders
- Steve McQueen
- Fire In My Head
- Hey Faustus
- Wild for the Night
- No Time
- Get Schifty
- Watch & Learn
Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies
Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies
- Do the Don’t
- Marcel Duchamp
- Hey Yuri!
- Dead’s not Punk
- Che Guevara
- Goth Postman
- Let’s Drive
- Hip Potater
- Queen Victoria’s Knob
- Concert Square
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