On Tuesday evening Pony Up brought us three powerful and altogether very different acts who all challenged us in some way – doubtless chosen for that very reason – and despite their differing musical styles worked well together in the billing. About the only other thing they had in common was that they all spent a lot of time on the floor among the audience.
Entering the hall at 8pm it was immediately clear this wasn’t going to be a typical gig. In the centre of the floor in front of the stage was a drum kit with plenty of gadgetry and what appeared to be a large inflatable, blank globe balloon above the stage onto which images were projected. This was Brighton’s Adrena Adrena, a collaboration between E-Da Kazuhisa of Seefeel and formerly of Boredoms, and visual artist Daisy Dickinson. The drumming of E-Da Kazuhisa coupled with the projections quickly took on a physically and mentally unsettling nature (quite deliberately so) and I became aware of an inner conflict where I was trying to maintain control of my own heart’s rhythm whilst the drumming rhythm and noise was attempting to wrest that control away from me. There was a battle going on. Powerful stuff, I not sure I’d listen to this at home but there’s no doubting the impact of the live set.
Next on was the highly charismatic Nuha Ruby Ra, as soon as I re-entered the hall after the short break I heard her start her set and made my way towards the front even though I could not yet see her onstage, only to see a figure emerge from behind the pillar in front of me and realise that she was walking among us on the floor. She did eventually get onto the stage but not for long, she was not a fan of the barrier and chose to get back down with us, prowling the floor intensely and singing into the faces of those brave enough to not shirk shyly away. Usually she performs with a full band but tonight was solo and her voice was amazing. Nuha Ruby Ra is excellent and I hope we see her back with the band at some point.
This gig sold out on the day and it did feel rammed. The bar was as full as I’ve seen it in a long time and there was a palpable sense of anticipation with people heading towards the front to bag a good vantage point. Within moments of Snapped Ankles starting their set there was a lively, bouncing throng which did not dissipate for the entire gig. After a number or two the band asked for the white lights to be turned off leaving only the green to bathe the stage in a forest glow to match the tree-like head garb of the band members and the wooden mics and synth boxes. For all the wood there was a lot of krautrock, electro and post-punk guitars elements to their sound and it was good to see such an alive, animated audience enjoying it.
Whilst not quite hitting the levels of absolute greatness I had unreasonably allowed myself to expect of them, or perhaps just not hitting the majestic heights of Acid Mothers Temple a few days earlier in the same venue (what could?) this was nevertheless a very good gig with a real mix of an audience from old punks to young Gladboys, Gladgirls and everything inbetween. Yes, Gladboy are clearly big fans of Snapped Ankles too and with all the notable faces in attendance certainly had the feel of being a notable event and the gig of the night to be at. I was seeing all three acts for the first time, the discovery for me on the night though was probably Naha Ruby Ra.
“They came from the trees.
Now settled in fertile east London, Snapped Ankles maintain the feral energy of the forest. Fight or flight. Primal motorik rhythms, the rush of white noise and post-punk angles; an aural onslaught played out on homemade log synths, electrified guitars and sticks beating hell on taut animal skin.
Snapped Ankles have flourished in the sub-tropical climes of warehouse and squat parties, moving onto performance art collaborations with filmmakers and shows in unlikely locations such as barber shops, games arcades and the forests they once called home. They plough a singular furrow at improbable angles. The woodwose have discovered electricity and they’re not afraid to use it.
Snapped Ankles emerged from the woods clutching an album that feels simultaneously modern and ancient. Come Play The Trees is what dance music will sounds like when computers finally fail us. Log synths, bass guitar and sticks on taut animal skin coalesce to form fearsome primal rhythms. Fuzz guitars rubbing up against dirty rolling arpeggiated synthesisers to ignite wild white noise fires.”
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