Strange Collective, Bad Meds, Ohmns, The Floormen: Kazimier Gardens

Strange Collective

Strange Collective

With nothing more than the spare change in his pocket Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman bags bargain with four of the North West’s most promising noisemakers. 

What can you buy these days for £2? Certainly not a pint or a packet of tabs that’s for sure.

But fear not bargain hunters because as this brilliant quadruple-bill of Merseyside noiseniks proves a single coin can still ensure a top class night of garage rock and stage invasions if you’re willing to part with your hard earned cash and head out for some midweek naughtiness.

As we arrived The Floormen are already weaving their kaleidoscopic tapestry into the very furnishings of the Kazimier Garden. Turns out that was just a soundcheck, but one easily mistaken for the kind of mellow jam the early evening was crying out for. Returning to the stage for the real thing the trio maintain their laid back approach which appears contagious as the crowd ease themselves in to a night that has all the potential to kick it up a notch at a minutes notice. The Floormen have made some great strides in a short period of time and had nothing to worry about in holding their own on a night that proves Liverpool is the epicentre of an exceptionally exciting time for psych and garage rock.

Hairy, lairy, and I’m guessing from the looks of them, dangerous to know, Ohmns (it’s pronounced ‘Omens’ apparently) are an incendiary wake up call to a somnambulant crowd happy to soak up the dying embers of summer in the Kazimier’s ever pleasant garden setting. A scabrous four-piece, they play mostly sludgey riff-heavy instrumentals full of fuzz bass and occasional outbreaks of Mudhoney-esque melody. Each song feels in urgent danger of slamming into a wall but that’s all part of the fun as their Brian Wilson-lookalike drummer somehow seems to steer them through the choppy waters towards a sound that is occasionally blissful in its determined repetition.

Hailing a band for being ‘tight’ often sounds like damning them with faint praise but it’s impossible not to marvel at the sheer tautness of Bad Meds’ stunning set of angry post punk. Nine years on from his former band Hot Club de Paris’ debut album, guitarist and vocalist Paul Rafferty seems no more reconciled by the fact he comes from Frodsham with tonight’s set full of suburban bitterness and barbed references to life on the periphery. Rafferty’s clipped vocals combine perfectly with the power drill drumming of David Kelly in a break-neck set which is both angry and funny. They finish with a gloriously ponderous take on the KLF’s It’s Grim Up North with Rafferty’s itinerary of bleak Lancashire mill towns and Yorkshire slag heaps sounding like a bleak but beautiful call to arms.

It’s getting harder and harder to not get excited about Strange Collective – surely the best of Liverpool’s many excellent new bands. For the last 12 months or so the talk has all been about potential but that should all be about to change as this joyous gem of a band appear to have reached a stage where all that promise has been realised and they can truly soar.

Yes, they’re undeniably a psych band but to dismiss them as just another bunch of Brian Jonestown Massacare wannabes does them a great disservice. The emphasis seems to be on fun and not some worthy attempt to join the dots between their references. Sure the likes of Thee Oh Sees, White Fence and even Creedance Clearwater Revival are all mixed in the stew but add in vocalist and guitarist Alex Wynne’s mish mash of stylings and you have a band that attract anyone from skate poppers to surf fuzzers. Tunes and hooks come tumbling out of the speakers and the outdoor setting is quickly turned into a frat party worthy of John Belushi’s drunken fantasies. By the end of the show Ohmns have invaded the stage to join in. You’ll probably be next.

Photos by Getintothis’ Vicky Pea