Live Review Wooden Shjips, Brighton Freebutt
Their sound washes over like some psychedelic space rock wave, salty.
Betting on what the turnout at a Wooden Shjips gig will look like won't get you much: it's pretty self-explanatory. In fact, rarely does an audience resemble so much the act; the dish of the day, in this case, is hair. Lots and lots of hair. And in that respect, I must say, I definitely fit in. But then that's about as far as my similarity in looks goes.
The crowd at the Freebutt tonight, as expected, is mostly made up of thirty-something record enthusiasts, and occasionally their girlfriends. It's hard to tell whether the girlfriends are bothered or not about being there, but the guys certainly don't seem phased that their ladies are with them. It's all quite bizarre. Everything about the evening is bizarre, actually, and in the best kind of way.
The broads never really say anything, but the beards definitely talk; in and around every track, and the whole set, random facts are mumbled, statements made and private in-jokes chuckled at.
“I've got an original first pressing of 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' at home.”
That's nice, dear.
The fact that the crowd is so very entertaining does not however deflect from what's going on onstage. It's just that it all works together, in some sort of natural harmony.
California's Wooden Shjips are an incredibly calming band to watch. Their sound washes over like some psychedelic space rock wave, salty. The moving sensation was furthered by the ongoing light show, projected on to the wall behind them. Black and white prints, showing us images of scaffolding, industrial scenery, the odd tree. All the photographs are saturated yet it's easy to make out what they are. They seem to be moving at a speed wholly dependant on the rhythm of the music, while still almost sucking the band into them.
It feels like a lot's going on, and we haven't even got to the sounds yet.
The set covers everything you'd want it to: some of the earlier stuff off of off of 'Wooden Shjips' such as 'Losin' Time'', as well as bits from 'Dos' including 'Motorbike'. Clearly, the new record 'Vol. 2' is plenty visited and all the material chosen feels instantly recognisable. The balance is flawless. Between tracks, a cassette Walkman, plugged in with all the electric organ equipment, plays snippets of watered down speeches. Of what, it's hard to say, but the effect is one of unease; this talking is weird, and sounds like drowning.
While the band are a pleasure to watch, especially when each member visibly goes off into their own “special place” (we're talking closed eyes, funny concentration faces and secret smiles), the audience acknowledgment is slight. Sure, a thank you is cool, but a little more talking wouldn't go amiss. Are the drowned out cassette conversations actually there to drown out the band's?
Despite the lack in banter, the gig is a rare gem, leaving one very stoned individual. Metaphorically speaking, of course.