Swinefest V @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 23-12-12

Swinefest V is nothing if not eclectic – six sets for a fiver, and every one has merit. Someone should give Dave Proctor a medal.

Instead, he has a tiny audience for his…performance (how do you describe a guy sat at a laptop, occasionally prodding something you can’t see) as Legion of Swine. He starts with a granule of noise that seems to be rubbing against itself, building into amplified static. Slowly it fills with wind and a crashing of rain, tempestuously transforming into the sound of an ocean, hammering. You can almost hear seagulls through the gales. The cold is palpable. Absolutely beautiful.

Kroyd and Mitch shamble onstage for their first performance as forgets. And it is a performance. Mitch provides a haze of melodic guitar shapes, Kroyd tells tales. Falteringly. It is difficult to tell how improvised it is as it forms a surprisingly coherent whole, with a defined beginning (talking with Death), a middle (Kroyd performing on his knees)  that could be subtitled “all these things I’ve done” and an end that is a resolution with Death. At which point Mitch disintegrates the melody to form a raucous finale. Difficult to describe, with moments of unease, but ultimately beguiling.

Brown and Benbowup next, and here was the only instance of similarity between acts – a duo with one doing vocals and the other instruments. The desire for comparison is obvious, but the effect was quite different. Brown “sings” low echo word noise with occasional phrases or blows shredded harmonica fuzz while Benbow makes fractured noises on a small box of tricks and a guitar, howling to a conclusion. Less coherent than forgets, parts are tedious and others sublime

While the rest of the band set up, Sloth Hammer’s drummer and bassist jam a Bohren type riff – slow drums and massive reverberating bass that is quite wonderful. The others join in and it is difficult to see where the beginning actually was. The remaining members of the troupe are a guy on electronic bibbity bobs (including a child’s plastic teapot and an electric drill, thankfully not used together) and two screamers (one who jumps and sways manically, the other almost immobile). These five almost-cartoon death/doom metallers provide a half hour slow doom improv of great intensity, much humour and general wonderfulness. They look like people your mother would avoid, but talking afterwards they were lovely…

…which is something to note about Swinefest. For all of the disparate approaches and lack of tribal identification, everyone is very friendly and helpful, audience and artists alike.

Next up are Super Luxury, five young lads who play funk-metal with a spikey punk tinge. And very good they are too – tight, well-organised, full of character and ready to rock a stadium. I appreciate their skill but it’s just not my thing.

And finally, Yugoslavian Boys – three blokes forming an anachronism. There’s the drummer from Super Luxury (who is very good), wearing nothing but cycling shorts, a lanky bassist with massive sideburns and an army surplus shirt who carries on playing relentlessly even when he falls over, and a singer in aviator shades, black clothes and driving gloves, playing a tinny eighties synthesiser and occasional flatulent trumpet. They start off sounding like a punked down Laibach and get progressively weirder. They appear amateur and shambolic but are very, very tight, making a punk racket with wit and style. They close with possibly the most unhinged version of ‘Louie Louie’ I’ve ever heard. Stunning.

Then we go home.


On the Vibrations stereo...