Live Review: Sunburn All-Dayer – Ghosts Kings of the Five Regions, St. Pierre Snake Invasion, Frauds, JOHN, Grieving, Matters, Downard, Rat The Magnificent, Tayne + Gaygirl

It’s not really been festival weather this summer, so the chance to catch an awesome all-day line-up of live music, whilst staying in the dry was a particularly appealing one.  As if to emphasise the point, on our approach to The Windmill the heavens open in a deluge of monsoon proportions, which coupled with umbrella-shredding winds leaves your correspondent squelching up Brixton hill with puddles in his shoes.

Safely ensconced within the walls of what remains one of London’s finest independent venues, we’re lured away from our spot huddling for warmth around the under-powered hand-drier in the toilets by the dreamy, reverb-drenched sounds of Gaygirl.  Windmill regulars and the first of many bands here to have graced the stage of the To Hell With Good Intentions nights which we co-promoted in Croydon with tonight’s hosts Frauds, their shoegaze inflected tunes drift langorously into the ear, puncturing the haze with occasional spikes of feedback strewn guitar.

Three o’clock in the afternoon may not be considered by many to be the optimal time of day for pounding industrial synth rock, but Tayne seem not to be bothered by convention.  Filling the venue with a hyperactive smoke machine and strobe lighting before stripping to the waist, they make for quite a spectacle but perhaps one better suited to a different environment.

Thankfully by now the sun is shining on Brixton, and having popped out to the beer garden to clear our lungs of artificial fog, we’re drawn back inside for Rat The Magnificent (also To Hell With alumni).  It’s the first time that we’ve seen them with new guitarist Simon Kobayashi, and he slots perfectly into their muscular, fuzz-drenched post-punk sound.

Bristol-based bass, drums and boilersuits duo Downard are up next, pounding out filthy low-register sludge topped off with delay-heavy vocals to create a sound that reverberates around the ribcage at just the right frequency.

Following a visit to the traditional Windmill barbeque (it just wouldn’t feel like a proper all-dayer without it), we’re ushered back into the venue for Matters.  I’m rarely taken with instrumental bands; something inside of me finds it hard to make an emotional connection, leaving the experience rather cold and clinical, but the Birmingham trio’s constantly evolving post-rock songs snake around one another with such intricacy and lightness of touch that it’s hard not be drawn in.

A description of next band, Grieving, as ‘kind of a bit emo but not rubbish like that sounds’ hadn’t done much to fuel our anticipation for their set.  Thankfully they match the second half of the description far better than the first, beating out a frantic punk racket with some nice shouty choruses.

Punching out a frenetic guitar and drums assault, JOHN have been going from strength to strength of late and the Crystal Palace duo provide on of today’s many highlights.  With drummer/vocalist John a blur of limbs and hair behind his kit and guitarist Johnny spending a good portion of the set in amongst the front rows of the crowd, their set is as compelling as it is relentlessly loud.

Curators of tonight’s festivities Frauds are also on fine form, the experience of recent UK tours with Future of the Left and Jamie Lenman evident in their charged onstage chemistry.  There are few bands around that can match their mix of claw hammer post-punk chaos and surrealist schoolyard silliness and right now they seem to be getting better with every show.

Somehow I’ve managed to get this far without having seen The St. Pierre Snake Invasion, despite having been urged to by pretty much everyone whose musical opinions I trust.  They deliver a gut punch set of angry, politicised punk rock, complete with Welsh male voice choir aside.

With the night drawing in, Ghost Kings of the Five Regions bring a shift in tone, spitting out lines of despairing introspection over a muddied tangle of post-rock.  At times it feels almost intrusive to be listening, the band seemingly teetering on the edge of breakdown without ever quite falling over the edge.

And with that, the nightbus is calling, leaving us sadly to miss the post-midnight set from South coast psych rocker Melt Dunes, with our ears full of reverb and our hearts charged with electrifying feedback.

Review and photography by Paul Maps
Check out future shows at the Windmill at windmillbrixton.co.uk

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