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Death In Vegas, Birdhead - CQAF Marquee, Belfast

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ATL | 18:43 UK time, Monday, 7 May 2012

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Death In Vegas, Birdhead
Cathedral Quarter Marquee, Custom House Square
Saturday 5th May 2012

“They sure do seem to be very angry and noisy, for there only being two of them” is the thought that comes to mind about Edinburgh's Birdhead. Sometimes, the fewer the members, the more concentrated the vitriol and so on. After all there seems to be 3 million members of the Polyphonic Spree and they all appear to be nice and friendly. Back to Birdhead, this two piece begin with a mix of sweet pop with a dance-rock edge, something in the vein of the late Oppenheimer or Cutaways, but move into murkier waters of dirty-electro and punk-techno, more like F*** Buttons at their spikiest. ‘She Was So Rowdy’ is malevolent, and their later formula of Stooges-esque guitar over a relentless beat with repetitive, spat out vocals comes across as a gloriously nightmarish situation of LaFaro covering Spacemen 3 while being remixed by Not Squares.

The two thoughts that come to mind about Death In Vegas tonight are the linked “was that it?” and “it’s a bit early isn’t it?”. A combination of a relatively short set of only 55 minutes (for a headline act, on their 5th album, seriously?), and the early start time (on stage at 9:30 according to the organisers) leaves some who arrived late having missed out and even those of us there on time feeling unsatisfied.

The unsettling swirling slow psychedelic groove of ‘Death Threat’ opens the night, setting the disorientating theme for the evening. The dark, slow, disco of ‘Your Loft, My Acid’ is outstanding, with heavy bass to the fore making it a trip into the space that The Chemical Brothers have made their own. Long-term favourite ‘Aisha’ has been dramatically overhauled, with only the vocals remaining the same amongst a dark groove recalling The Cure, Nine Inch Nails or Spiritualized. It’s a brave change, but works with the rat-a-tat drums, distorted bass and swirling atmosphere.

The encore is, like the main part of the set, all too brief, but includes the New York style electro-sleaze of ‘Hands Around My Throat’, before finishing with a frenetic, shaky, paranoid rave-wig-out of ‘Rekkit’. There's a few sheepish waves from our band who seem slightly embarrassed at leaving us, as this should have been the cue for another 30 minutes (at least), but instead we head out into the slightly chilly environs of the Square, happy with what we have seen but wanting much more.

William Johnston



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