In Case of Fire, Mojo Fury, The Black Bear Saloon
Ah, someone somewhere has a sense of humour. For as Black Bear Saloon take the stage, they're accompanied by the delicate strains of 'The Teddy Bears' Picnic'. I suspect that these Black Bears wouldn't be at the picnic, and would instead be drinking copious quantities of moonshine in the local saloon. The idea that they're a bunch of secret drinkers continues as the vocals are that of a man who has woken up post-binge with a dead furry animal for a tongue and in that spirit (gin, vodka, whiskey, toilet cleaner), it's apt they have a song called 'The Thirst' with a very punky post-punk melody. 'Al Bundy' has a grungy twisted hoedown feel like Mudhoney gone line-dancing, and 'No Witnesses' threatens to beat us to Seattle with its despairing little breakdown. There are hints of something in there, but it's intermittent, and in need of a quiet polish, and possibly a throat lozenge.
Ah, Mojo Fury. Now they look like a band, sound like a band, and hence according to the saying they must be a duck. Actually, they're not ducks, although I wouldn't be surprised to find a duck call lurking in their songs somewhere, there's enough of everything else. Instead the only fowl thing about them is that they're ducking good. It's driving, pounding, searing and sneering, and loud in the all right places. And that's just the first track. Rampaging between genres and styles like a hyperactive toddler in a record store, it's just as entertaining to witness. Guitar music of every shade is fired into the mixer, with bits of art, blues, rock, grunge, pop and madness. Perhaps a little too out there for their own good, this glorious racket is every type of good, but it might be impossible to restrain and cage it for the wider world. "Got so many things in my head I don't want to waste", they sing, and that's what it is - the sound of good musicians wanting to do everything and wanting to do it now, desperately trying to free the sounds in their heads. Before closing with 'Thank You Very Much', a slight respite from what has gone before but still with a wonderful little contemporary feel, they promise us an album next year, which, if they can capture this live spirit, will be all over the end of year lists come next Christmas. They definitely got the Mojo workin'.
In Case Of Fire, when they first came around, were at the forefront of the new breed of bands and artists which raised the bar for our expectations of local music and 11 months ago they shared an intimate stage with Fighting With Wire and LaFaro. They probably, musically, stole the show that night, albeit we were won over by the easier, gregarious charms of the other two bands, and following that they pretty much disappeared from our radar bar a couple of 1st quarter gigs and a festival appearance. Now they're back after a year laying the groundwork for global domination. Straight into it, they're as tight as their drums, the hard work they've put in immediately apparent. It's driving, pounding, and relentless, raw, emotional and vital. 'Something' is catchy pop, yet still rock heavy, and melody as well, ticking all the boxes, a challenge laid down to their contemporaries - follow that. 'Violence' fittingly has an edge to it, but is fantastic with it, like a lost QOTSA song from the Rated R era, and the driving incessant rhythm of 'Landslides' carries everything on. The majesty of 'Enemies' is enough to start trouble across of the world, after all, who needs friends? And closer 'Second Derivation' has, like a lot of their material tonight, a gorgeously evil little electro-Aphex Twin bit nestling in there to add to it, as they're unwilling to settle for just being blokes with guitars. I'm not exactly sticking my neck out here, but they're going to be very big.
In Case Of Fire are named incorrectly. Instead of putting out any flames they're more likely to burn you.