10,000 Russos, Ugly Mother’s, Nick Branton and David Kelly: Phase One, Liverpool


10,000 Russos By Chris Flack

On a decidedly chilly November night, Getintothis’ Chris Flack popped down to Phase One for a night of Psych, Skuzzy noise and cruelty to instruments, this is his post-match report.

It’s a brave man that competes with an event that involves Liverpool and Man City in Anfield, there is a lot to play for too, eight points at the last count, so we were a little apprehensive as we made our way down Seel Street.

This might well be a Getintothis’ gig but as we make our way to Phase One we notice it’s only the bars with gargantuan teles that have any crowd, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of gig-goers round town.

It’s probably worth pointing out that, according to a journalist we follow on Twitter, it is just 45 days til Christmas, even less to December 12 and democratic doomsday, which is where his countdown is focused.

People are at that ‘Oh Shit I haven’t bought any gifts yet and I’ve only got one wage packet to go‘ stage, so there are more than a few reasons why you might expect a quiet Sunday night gig.

We apologise unreservedly for bringing that whole Christmas thing up, but, thems the breaks kid.

As it stands, the room was a little quiet as we settled in with a cold pint in a foolhardy attempt to warm up, the temptation to rummage through the racks of records in search of a Christmas present or two was a thought not lost on us as we waited for Nick Branton and David Kelly to take to the stage.

While the room was still a little quiet, Nick and David decided they were going to do their best to challenge our preconceptions about what a quiet Sunday meant.

In a display that had us considering a call to the Royal Society For The Protection of Musical Instruments, they launched into a set that was verging on the very edge of lunacy.

It’s as if someone has found an acid jazz den in Brooklyn and spent the last few hours spiking the musicians’ drinks, there wasn’t an instrument on stage left unabused.

The drums were given a hefty kicking, they were trussed up, throttled, smothered and strangled.

The saxophone and Alto Sax were thrown around the stage, similarly abused, a plastic bottle was used at one point to effectively gag the saxophone in what looked like live musical waterboarding.

All this on a Sunday Night? Heaven forfend.

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The resulting sound they make is both affecting and alarming, calming and disorientating, normal and abnormal, these things sound like they’re supposed to, in some ways, and yet they sound nothing at all like they’re supposed to.

This stuff sets you on edge, and maybe it’s supposed to, it fucks with your internal rhythms, throws you off balance, and maybe it’s supposed to, and maybe that’s the art of making noise.

London quintet Ugly Mothers are an entertaining bunch, and given that it’s a Sunday we were reminded of an old past time. At home, Sunday was the day for Nutts Corner Market, the place teemed with bargain hunters every week without fail. It was a joy, if not one that had an overwhelming number of copyright infringements involved.

That was our memory as Ugly Mothers took to the stage. Their matching overcoats and five-pound ‘Burberry style’ scarves had us wondering where they stopped on their way up this morning.

We were looking forward to this, the last time they were here they literally set fire to the stage. And not in a ‘oh literally‘ way, they actually set fire to the stage.

Their anger is palpable, the government, ex-partners, the establishment and the Uber rich all come in for a kicking, perhaps rightly so.

They have a great sound, it sits somewhere between a Tarantino vibe, that of spaghetti westerns, dark bars, Red Rum Club but it’s served with added fury and comes with an Idles energy, albeit one that drank a lot of Buckfast on the way here, it’s the kind of thing that seeps into your bones whether you want it to or not.

They play an all too short set for our tastes and in the end, they set fire to yet another guitar; the urge to call the Royal Society For The Protection of Musical Instruments calls again.

It’ll be a busy night for them.

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10 000 Russos are up next and while the punters aren’t exactly bursting through the doors there is a perfectly healthy crowd to see them take to the stage.

When they do take to the stage it’s with a glass-shattering crash of cymbals that seems designed to wake a few of us up. And maybe interrupt any ongoing calls to Royal Society For The Protection of Musical Instruments.

As the room darkens the noise becomes huge, repetitive, snaggy, it’s drowned in reverb and echo, the repetition draws you in, it draws the crowd forth and works itself into your pulse, it scratches at your skin and bones and attaches itself to your DNA, it’s as though it’s determined to alter you very being.

Our one thought, so compelling it overreaches every other consideration, is that this is what Mark E Smith would be doing if he was in his early 30s, into Psych and from Portugal. Probably.

Though there aren’t enough amps around the stage for all that level bothering Smith engaged in when he couldn’t be arsed with the audience.

As the dry ice kicks in it gets slower, darker, both in terms of the bass and the visibility, it slows, to a terrible march almost, it becomes something foreboding, like something hideous is about to happen to your favourite leading lady that may or may not involve aliens or zombies creeping out of the darkness.

Like all really good music, it’s quite simple in its process, there isn’t a huge amount going on, it’s structure isn’t difficult to understand, that’s not to take anything away from the sheer power of what these three can create with very little on stage.

The change in tone is gradual, the change in tempo is almost hard to pin down, but it’s these two elements that drag you along.

The bass has a brutality that is hard to describe in mere words, there are points where it’s almost demonic, terrorising your senses and punishing you for past transgressions.

The lead guitar comes through a pedalboard that looks like an interplanetary communication system, it probably could be if it were left with a decent boffin for a few hours, it’s huge, near untamable, it appears to be the one thing on stage that demands the most attention.

But it’s the drums that push the insanity along its terrible path, they’re relentless, like someone has tied your head to a kango hammer as they dismantle the flyover on Dale Street at three in the morning.

The vocal sounds like some drunken, demented heathen preacher, screaming vain repetitions through a loud hailer in a dark warehouse in Area 51; tied with the bass it’s probably this that gives 10,000 Russos this space-age, horsemen of the apocalypse, demonic vibe.

Not bad for a Sunday night, though I’m pretty sure we’re all gonna burn. Somewhere.

Pictures By Getintothis Chris Flack