Ex Girl take to the stage. They're wearing things on their heads. I can't really describe them cos, a) I can't really describe them, and b) the place is rammed and it's difficult to see much. They're Japanese, broken English and they play a set that seems to put bemused looks on many faces and grins on as many again. Sometime melodically poppy, they then play a off key kind of guitar thing, it's a noisey pop thing, always led by the bass and drums. Not what I listen to, I can't compare them to anyone. There's some strange acapella operatic warbling moments with all three singing and saying to "shut up, shut up, shut your fucking mouth" whilst hand puppets are waved at the crowd. As they leave, the drummer tries to encourage anyone who liked them to sign their mailing list at the end, but please, please, PLEASE write clearly.
Waaaa, reeeebo, yayayayaya, woarghwoargh, crrroooooooooooon. Ah, like I'm going to let this one pass.
As Ex-Girl leave, someone wanders through the crowd looking at the stage. It's him. stood next to me. Thoughts run through the head. Speak or not? He doesn't need idiots at this time of the day as he's preparing to go on. Although I know that the people in bands are simply that, people, and should never really be held in any higher estimation, it just suddenly feels strange that the guy is there. As I'm thinking, someone makes my mind up for me. "Oi" someone shouts at him and sticks his hand in his to shake it. Which starts a few more off. I'll wander off now then. Thanks for making my mind up. I'm relieved I didn't do that.
Look, it's Fantomas! Ok ok ok, the other week for A Perfect Circle I really tried hard to avoid making obvious references to the singers other band. After all, you take the band playing for themselves and only themselves right? But, sorry, BUT, this is PATTON. If you don't know it already, I consider him to be the best vocalist there is. He does put out some pretentious drivel, but, when he gets it right, no-one, NO-ONE touches him. As the band set up, he wanders on to test the mikes, getting a huge cheer. It ain't even started yet.
This is being held in the basement. It's absolutely rammed. 3/4 of Medulla Nocte are here at least, some ex-Iron Monkey members, and I'm sure there's others milling around somewhere. It's hot, so hot. There's an arguement it should've been upstairs, but then it would probably have only been half full at best. I'm what, 6 foot I guess. I can barely see anything. I've got a place where I can see Patton, though people's heads move annoyingly in front on an irritatingly frequent basis. Still, one thing of it being here, is the tiles on the ceiling acts as mirrors, so I find myself actually watching the gig via them on numerous occassions. Except there's one missing from when Pitchshifter played here in what, '96 or 97? And it's just where it needed to be.
Dave Lombardo is set up sideways to the crowd, but it's to face Patton on the other side of the stage, so that he can take his cue throughout the set from the little nods and gestures. Between the, Osbourne and Dunn provide the guitar and bass.
And so they start. There's a few things to remember. This is Fantomas, there's no easy fix here. I sometimes wonder when listening to the album, and watching this, how on earth it can be rehersed and practiced. They seem tight, but although there's obviously structure there to them, it's not obvious to me, and the majority of people I suspect brought up on easy, regulated rock music. This is rock music that's challenging the preconcetions. Immediately they start Patton makes his first noise of the night. A female voice close by says "what's wrong, that's pretty melodic". It's a naievety that's at once endearing, but by the end of the night, on behalf of the crowd will have become increasingly annoying. The music leaps, bounds and spasms, much like Patton really, bent over a keyboard and sampler, swapping between microphones, throwing out all kind of voices and vocal effects.
It's incredible the power he has for all the styles, the clarity. You stand, mesmorised thinking, "how the fuck are you doing that, when are you going to bvreath, how can you do that and breath" and other similar thoughts. There's no actual vocals here, not in your "sing me something sweet" kind of way. But in one swoop, he simply destroys all those singers who are "extreme" cos they can shout, or are varied cos they can "sing gently in but one tone" as well. Forget all your nu-metal frontmen. They simply don't come anywhere near this. The music's kind of heavier live. or that's how it feels. It spazzes. And does it's best to make a mockery of the crowd. They jump for a heavy bit, and it stops and they're still going. Some people crowd surf for the heavy bits. As they're half way through the surf, it stops. Bet you feel an idiot now then.
Not as much an idiot obviously as the twats that are in here. Throughout the set there's one guy who seems insistent on singing for some Faith No More. There's a group shouting for Girls Of Porn. Someone yells to "get on with it". Another shouts "play some songs". Someone else adds "I paid 7.50 for this". The common factor between all these? They're twats. Easy. Hey guys look. What did it say on the tickets? Fantomas. That's Fantomas. Not Faith No More. Not Mr Bungle. If you need help with reading, there's some great adult education places you can visit. They're not going to play that. Did you come just because of the name on the ads? Well, hey, great, but in buying your ticket, you came to see what he's doing here and now with this band, no-one else, and not to see what you want. You've got no right at all to ask for or demand stuff from his former or other bands. you paid you're money to see Fantomas. No-one else. And if it's a waste of your money, then fuck off out the building. We don't really need you in here.
And hey, revelation for you. You make no difference. You're not important. You shouting is not going to make the band suddenly go "fuck, he's right. We shouldn't play the music we created as four people. We should play other peoples music, the music he wants us to play. We should play nice little chooons instead. Thankyou, thankyou so much for making us see the light. Never again shall we attemmpt the folly of actually doing what we want, that's not the way. We must always do what other people want us to do. So sorry for what you've had to listen to thus far." See, it ain't going to happen is it? And neither should it. Do us a favour. Go home and look in the mirror to see what a twat looks like and then remember if for future occassions.
But in a way the misguided heckling also kind of makes more credible and understandable the claim of Patton that Fantomas created his ultimate death metal album, because it's kind of more brutal than all that's out there and infinitely more intelligent. It seems it's all a bit too intelligent for some people. Wumba wumba, me caveman.
"How you doing Nottingham. You still with us? Just checking we haven't lost you?" he offers up, then they actually go into a ballad of sorts. It could be a cover, I don't know. Patton croons. Sure, that's my favourite side of him, it would be nice to hear more of it, but, I'm not expecting that, and I'm actually enjoying the other side this evening anyway.
They depart, and return for an encore. "What's there to do in Nottingham?" Patton asks. 'Fuck all' comes the reply. "Fuck all. Watch your mouth you foul mouth little urchin" he chides before asking again. "What about the worlds oldest pub, the one in the cave? Kurt Cobain died there, really. And Anthony Kiedis is there threatening to chop me up" he notes, I guess in reference to the infamous comments so many years ago, when Kiedis had the audacity to say that Patton was a clone of him. Oh how the times have changed, yet rumour was that Kiedis still had so much of a problem that he had Bungle kicked off European festivals last year. "Do you want Dave to do a 30 minute drum solo?" he asks. "It's be freeform Jazz" he lies as they then have a little discussion on stage before doing a rather incredible mini-version of Slayer's Reign in Blood album - in just about 5 minutes. It starts with the opening to Angel of Death up to the scream, before THAT drum bit and the end of the song, there's various riffs and they end playing an accelerate version of Postmortem with Patton spitting out the final "what I am and what I want I'm only after death" in a kind of cartoon manner. And they're gone. An incredible end to an incredible gig. Absolutely fenomenal (I know I know).
It's actually one of those gigs that you're kind of glad to get to the end of. To be able to walk outside and gulp some nice fresh polluted air, after the heat of the place, almost tasting the sweat of the people and the walls it so hot. You don't want it to end, but you do. It's a hell hole, but as soon as you get out of there, the realisation kind of dawns on you of exactly what you have just a witness to, and you wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Well, except for the twats having stayed at home of course. Sorry, I really don't like that word, but it's just appropriate for the idiots in the crowd this evening.