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Chocolate Love Factory and support - Menagerie, Belfast

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ATL | 14:56 UK time, Monday, 29 August 2011

Chocolate Love Factory/LoUiSe/Optimus Rhyme, Thee Higher Beings, Dickie Bow Bathtub.

Menagerie, Belfast
25th August 2011

Chocolate Love factory


In promotion of their magnificent Coral Lady EP, Chocolate Love Factory headline a bill tonight encompassing riffs, raw talent, farce, and everything in between. With only three songs to their name, opening act Dickie Bow Bathtub get proceedings under way with a noise-laden cover of the White Stripes’ ‘Black Math’, a gutsy instrumental and a truly impassioned cover of John Frusciante’s ‘Carvel’. Full of spurts of chaotic noise and half-rehearsed grooves, their set is ramshackle to the point of art, and what they lack in concentrated, original material, they more than make up for in charm and intent.

With their highly innovative brand of subtly anthemic rock, Thee Higher Beings are best described as the desert rock equivalent of The Shadows. Their head-turning instrumentals reveal a four-piece with an overabundance of suave presence and a surprising capacity for wielding tight, groove-filled stoner rock à la Screaming Trees and Rated R era QOTSA. And while they may not be the next Cashier No. 9, the likes of ‘Smash The State’ and a cover of Lanegan’s ‘Lexington Slow Down’ make you wonder if that’s actually to their disadvantage.

Somewhere between NWA, Praxis and Ween, Optimus Rhyme and the Three Masketeers soon emerge to the Rock’s WWF theme – what else? - with Wickerman-esque masks, and a disturbingly refined knack for seriously infectious rap-rock. With original songs including the outstanding ‘Remember The Name’ and covers including ‘Gangster’s Paradise’, ORATTM master merging crowd-delighting slapstick with real personality and skill. Best of all, you will struggle to find a more masterful and zealous wielder of rhymes these days than Benny, aka Optimus Rhyme.

Blues-rock combo LoUiSe groovily take things up a notch courtesy of their Bonnevilles-like swagger, and impeccable start/stop riff-dom. Whilst practically half the age of their aforementioned peers, they lack nothing in unrestrained gusto and natural charisma, best shown with ‘Ginger Jonny’, a chugging rampage that sees half the crowd descend into fits of spontaneous insurrection. Do not be surprised when you hear much more of LoUiSe in the near future.

But, as expected, the high point of tonight are headliners, three-piece Chocolate Love Factory. In a set encompassing impossibly tight, blistering grooves, the force and intensity of this band is a genuine sight to behold. Whereas ‘Rat Bag’ forms as an explosive, shuddering beast, ‘Circadian and Homeostatic Waves’ is a stoner-rock overture that trounces like few others. The darkly bobbing ‘Texty Text’ is another highlight, whilst a warmly-nostalgic cover of ‘Rape Me’ naturally morphs into ‘Frape Me’ by the second verse (oh, the humour). By the end, with the murky weight of Kyuss, and the single-minded prog of King Crimson in the air, ‘Coral Lady’ and frontman Rory Dee’s exorcism on guitar, proves an absolutely shattering conclusion to one exceptional night.

Brian Coney


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