The Devil's Roadshow - The Wedge - November 2005

Autumn In New York + 9 Months Waiting + Chillerton + Hellcyon

by Armchair Anarchist

Your reviewer is going to do something unusual. He is going to review the bands in the order he thought they should have appeared in. First band on, Autumn In New York have the MySpace look. They’re all about the fringes, the tight trousers and so on. So unsurprisingly, the music they make is sing/scream discordant clamour-punk. The songs are well thought out but their instrument skills and on-stage confidence fall way short of the mark. The timing is sloppy, the vocals are flat and the guitars are a mush. A good effort from a young and inexperienced band but more practice required. Headliners of the evening 9 Months Waiting are excellent musicians, however. Their playing is incredibly tight, the vocals are clear and powerful. Everything is where it should be sound-wise and they move about frantically on stage. Unfortunately the music they play is so generic as to be absolutely unmemorable; all that sticks in the mind are the frequent ‘whoa-oh-oh’ lines and their obvious frustration with the static crowd. A brilliant performance of cable TV music-channel fodder - at least they don’t resort to screaming. Third act on stage Chillerton have a sound that harkens back to the mid-to-late 90s. Back then, talking about ‘My Space’ meant trying to regain the spot at the front of the crowd where you had been doing ‘the change-grabber’ before heading off to be sick in the toilets. It’s the simple energetic sound of underground hardcore, a scene kept alive by bands like these, who play for fun with no delusions of getting famous. A black-clad three-piece, they pump out a precise and confident set of songs. The tunes rely on simple driving chord-riffs and gravelly shouted vocals, the classic New York punk sound. This stripped down stuff is off the media radar these days but they don’t seem to care. Despite seeming a little lost having so much stage to play with, they chug through their set with confidence and aplomb. I can't help but feel they would come across far better (not to mention enjoy themselves more) in a smaller venue with no stage and no barrier - and an audience who were old enough to appreciate their style. Next up are Hellcyon who, despite being second act on, take over the stage like a band who deserve to headline. For a start, they’re visually a very mixed bag. One skinny metal-boy axe-man and one aloof jazz-club guitarist. The bass player is an affable, woolly-headed loony and the singer is a crazy Brazilian... in drag. They play songs of proggish complexity with incredible skill. All the drop-outs, false endings, solos and jazzy interludes are delivered flawlessly. The sound veers from classic rock to crunching metal with detours through jazz and blues. But this is no po-faced muso set; the sense of fun is pervasive. The singer belts out the lyrics in a classic-rock style and the bass player romps around, pulling faces. How to sum up the humour of the set? Well, it ends with a song called ‘Burn the Boats’ which is all about a fictional, surreal encounter between Vikings and Pirates, complete with silly hats and ironic cod-rock posturing. If you like to watch a skilled band who take the music seriously but not themselves, you must see Hellcyon soon.