Thursday 22nd of June 2006
How many guitarists does it take to make a band? Well five if your name's Kobai and you believe rock is all about growling riffs and attitude. The slightly feral looking 6 piece hail from Glasgow and do a good line in head banging their greasy locks to a thumping bass line.
Kobai play with a ferocious intensity; launching into the set without a word of introduction and with startling passion. Their mantra seems to be; play like it's your last gig ever and don't give a damn what anyone else is doing. Thus the music is dark, desperate, heavy and intense: not for those of a delicate disposition.
'107' is dominated by thumping syncopated bass and relentless rasping guitar riffs that all but drown out the vocals. 'Electronic' has more of a mellow emo vibe, featuring melodic keys played with an almost psychotic, lurching intensity. It's like witnessing an explicit film scene of unbridled passion. For a keyboard.
It's not until half way through the set that Kobai deign to address the audience. Lead singer Ross Hinton's cheery banter seems strangely at odds with the awkward, angry looking guitarists hell-bent on being 'misunderstood'.
However they quickly get back to the difficult business of being a gritty rock band with harsh, edgy track, 'Blinded'. Laced with space invaders style keyboard distortion and underlayed with quivering feedback, I'm reminded of darker Death In Vegas tracks - particularly the thumping 'Aiesha'.
Kobai save the best till last as they showcase their debut single to be released on 14th August. 'Serotonin' is a paranoid rush of guitar fuelled energy that propels itself along in an edgy drug-induced haze. It's let down only by the cheesy keyboard introduction and finale that are reminiscent of Ross's musical dabbling in Friends.
Kobai end the set with another heavy, thumping track littered with more slightly naff keyboards that sound as if they've been plundered from the demo menu. The order is to grab something - anything - and beat along as the riffs are repeated ad infinitum. The audience is mesmerized - we tap our collective foot like robots, unable to resist the frenetic dirge.
Not so hot on Kobai's heels, the next band to take to the stage are certainly hot on their fashion - or at least hot on raiding the fancy dress cupboard. Sporting bandanas, cowboy boots, wife beaters and leather jackets, it's like stepping into the set of Wayne's World. The aptly named The God's Directors are an unapologetic slice of stadium rock, brimming with infectious energy.
This is ROCK with two fingers stuck up. Oozing testosterone from every pore, the lead singer rolls his eyes wildly and throws his long, bleached Timote locks around the stage. (Although his water-swigging between songs and gym toned body, hint of a less-crazy life off stage.)
Inspired by Guns and Roses and Alice Cooper, the tracks are loud, masculine and guitar heavy. Quick to admit they are 'attention seeking bastards', this is quickly demonstrated through the lengthy solos, unashamed air guitar and penchant for getting naked.
The vocals occasionally sound like large animals being strangled and the lyrics are so clichéd I wince - 'I know your name, I feel your pain' etc. Despite this, they win top marks for enthusiasm: playing to a sedate, disinterested crowd is tough, especially when you want to be worshipped by an entire stadium screaming your name.
A million miles from scarf-wearing, trendy indie bands, The God's Directors are so far from cool it's almost panto. The final dramatic, drawn-out, gurning finale is a melee of thrashing guitars, thumping bass and screaming lyrics. Excruciating at times, and most certainly eardrum damaging, this band deserves medals for effort.
Last up on stage is the eagerly awaited The Council, who ooze cool and command the stage with the ease of an established band - but that's probably because they know they're on to something good. A smile splits across my face as they launch into their first track, which there aren't enough adjectives to describe. Gritty, meaty, rich and gravelly, the sound is thick and satisfying like a chicken casserole on a cold day.
Heavily influenced by Hendrix and underpinned with throaty Queens of the Stone Age style guitars, the tracks flow with determined, measured pace. Lead singer Derin Adebiyi exercises an impressive vocal range, but there's a hint of gospel as all four band members sing along. The lyrics are simple: repeated over and over again with steady determination until you've got the message.
'Revelation' opens with dramatic keyboards lifted straight from a 1950s horror film while the band wail like banshees over the top. This quickly gives way to deep, pondering Doors' style lyrics, before the thrashing guitars take over. Constantly playing with tempo, The Council alternate between a funereal march and high-pitched bursts of keyboard-driven energy.
'Rainy Days Revisited' is slow and funky - like a silent cat slinking its way through dark streets. The lyrics are sparing - the guitars alone are enough to hold your attention - while the bass reverberates like a didgeridoo.
The final track of the night is a medley - or rather a self indulgent jumble of showing off. Raw, gospel vocals give way to throbbing guitars, which turn into soft plodding bass, before making room for improvised guitar solos. It's again hugely reminiscent of lengthy Hendrix tracks, but a bit of an endurance test for my tired legs.
The crowd cannot get enough: despite an hour long set, they demand an encore from this talented band with all to play for. Catch them while you can.
Author: Sarah B
Venue: O2 Academy (Islington)
Found in: Live Reviews