(Photographer - Joshua Pike)
Le Mans. No, not the actual 24 hour motor race. I’m talking about the film about the motor race. I rank it as the fourth best Steve McQueen flick*. And I mention it as I got to see most of the third act (right down to the end credits) and back to the beginning (albeit, without sound) during the opening acts for Slumberhaze at the Oxford Art Factory last Friday night. The marvels of projection. Welcome to a game I like to call ‘Coincidental Synchronicity’. A game of images married to sound… without any planning whatsoever. Just go with me on this… scores do apply.
Grand-Oyster-Palace. I liked these guys. They had self-deprecating wit, a certain shyness and the ability to power on until they found their groove. It was sloppy, raw rock with solid drumming and vocals delivered without too much flavour. It worked, I reckon, as a warm-up to the main event. The crowd was far too thin and reserved to be calling out for participation, but you can’t blame a singer for trying… his calls for some freestyle weren’t answered, but he did manage to work some Beck into what was their (as Grand Oyster Palace) highlight song of the night: ‘I Wanna Make You’. After that it was a quick Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club switch-up (though the lead singer stayed put). Guitar for bass and bass for guitar and, voila! Grand Oyster Palace became Crab Nebula. This I really liked. The first track in alter-ego mode was the true key in the ignition. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of said track and Crab Nebula turned back into Grand Oyster Palace (they did make an appearance later in the set).
It’s funny, the lead singer mentioned that he’s been listening to TOTO and has Duran Duran on his iPhone/ipod/Walkman (?). I had a good listen to their recorded track ‘Get Cha Rat Out’ and I’d put some money on PWEI being a source of some inspiration.
Oh, Le Mans Coincidental Synchronicity Score: 6/10 - There were moments, I’m telling you! Great moments of synchronicity! Man and machine! Man, machine and Grand Oyster Palace!
The Bravery Aware goes to Waza. I don’t know, but you have to hand it to a guy who’s up on stage, whiz bang gear before him and not a bandmate in sight. Had the place been packed I’m sure Waza would have set some brains alight. Full tilt hip hop. Right venue, wrong crowd…no crowd? But my ears were pricked to sound and it brought a smile to my face when I heard a sample of The Cars during the end of his set in the form of ‘Drive’… which was quite fitting (spooky?) considering the you-know-what film being played behind him. Speaking all things Car-ish... Carmada were playing a sold-out show next door. I'm sure Waza could have hung back and caught the punters on their way out.
Le Mans Coincidental Synchronicity Score: 10/10 – Waza sampled ‘Drive’. Enough said.
Maybe it was the thin crowd, maybe the end of a long haul… but Slumberhaze appeared weary. Yeah, you’ve got to bring your A-Grade everytime and all that jazz. Afterall, when you’re on a showcase (residency?) all punters matter. Thing is, Slumberhaze are a fantastic band. I can tell you that. Anyone who’s had a good listen ‘Rhythm, Rhyme or Romance Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ would attest to their awesomeness (‘Cool Don’t Stop’ always reminds me of Karnivool… it’s that break that took some getting used to). ‘Nothing But You’ is an incredible song, one that should (hopefully) further their charge. But on this particular night they faltered. It may be a cop-out to say, but I’m going to leave Slumberhaze without an official write-up. I know what these guys can do and I want to catch them when they’re full of beans and peachy keen.
Le Mans Coincidental Synchronicity Score: N/A – Le Mans was not playing during Slumberhaze’s set. Instead, we got snippets of a dancing Obama during a State of the Union and George W. Bush dodging a shoe. Edgy, hey? But maybe playing Le Mans during the opening acts was some sort of reference to endurance… you know, Le Mans… the 24 hour race… stretching? Hell, with all that in mind, I’m giving Slumberhaze a 10/10 Synchronicity Score for getting me to think that.
*For the record, in order: Bullitt (racing green 68 Mustang and black 68 Dodge Charger), The Getaway (Ali McGraw, of course), The Thomas Crown Affair (Faye Dunaway, definitely) and Le Mans (crash, bang!).
Written by D.L. Bugeja