The Unicorn, Camden, London 23/03/2012
A catch-up with tonight’s promoter confirms a belief that I’ve held about The Unicorn for some time – if you can keep the majority of people in the venue past 9.30pm without them wandering off to get pissed elsewhere, then you’re a damn good band. It’s even less easy to do on a night where the regular house honchos, jazz-metal lunatics Astrohenge, aren’t headlining and without the right bill composition, the night can sometimes become not unlike an un-moist squib. This is not one of those nights. Spirits are high and the booze is a-runnin’ as London’s hairiest, along with a healthy number of fair rocking maidens, gather to salute the launch of Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight’s latest album ‘Going Home’.
Desertscene supremos Steak put the pan on to warm by opening proceedings with their finely honed stoner chops. Meaty hooks and juicy fuzz spit and crackle from guitarist Reece Tee’s strings as the foursome lurch between cacti and dustroads with a beer in one hand and a shotgun in the other. Lead-singer Kippa rocks out like its 1993 backed by the steady beats of Dan Large tenderising the beef behind the kit. Yeah, OK, it’s pretty much Kyuss revisited, but who gives a shit when everyone’s nodding along to these prime fillets of 28-day aged goodness!
To the bar! The pub is filling up nicely, merch is flying off the table and old friends are sinking a good few cold ones whilst deciding who to catch at the upcoming DesertFest and Roadburn festivals. But before you become stuck to your chair for too long, it’s ‘Henge time. Crashing down all known barriers of the heavy metal template with their dual-guitar, dual-keyboard, schizo-drum set-up, Astrohenge are the notorious gangsters of omni-metal tomfoolery at large in this ‘ere town. Oli Weeks meddles with his keys like some sort of King-Crimson-meets-Harry-Potter timelord as Hugh Harvey and Matthew Rozeik bring the meanest, ugliest, silliest riffs spewing from their Les Pauls. Tonight’s set is the faultless regular playlist we’ve come to expect as ‘Toil In Hell’, ‘Space Honky’, ‘Tomb of the Mummy’ and the resoundingly mighty ‘Piefight’ rain down on the Unicorn faithful. Harvey’s enormous gurned stage grin is akin to that of a recently post-pubescent boy with a free house and a copy of Nuts magazine, as octopian drummer Keiran Iles observes the mayhem thoughtfully pondering what all the fuss is about.
The crowd are here for one band especially tonight though and Trippy Wicked do not let us down. Opening with the lost-at-sea-sounding hymn of lengthy title-track opener ‘Going Home’, this is grungy, yet upbeat blues-sludge at its best. De facto master of ceremonies for the night, Peter Holland is a confident beyond belief cookie, sporting the fun-time grin and holler of Dave Grohl and the crunching but soulful guitar tone of Kim Thayil, the audience is his. Tonight’s majority goes to new cuts, the QOTSA rhythms of ‘Up the Stakes’ and the whiskey-soaked ode to booze that is ‘I Want Another Drink’ sit perfectly next to set regulars ‘Fire’ and ‘Southern’. “Who’s up for a hoe-down?!” yells Holland before beer sails through the air and heads bang furiously to Chris West’s thunderous toms and Dicky King’s Rickenbacker bass fuzz on the boogie-stomp of ‘Hillbilly Moonshine’, the room simply exploding with rock. Stand-out moment however goes to the surprisingly emotional ‘Change Your Mind’, Holland pitching high vocal notes alongside a splew of delicious riffage that very few could better. Ending on the punky ‘Ain’t Gonna End Well’, the crowd embrace the popular threesome off the stage. It doesn’t get much better than this as live gigs go, especially for permanently free entry. That was both trippy and wicked in equal measure.
Scribed by: Pete Green