Fanfarlo + El Guincho + Munch Munch @ White Heat, Madame JoJo's
Bristol's Munch Munch are the first to take to the stage. I'd been meaning to write about these guys ever since I got hold of their Wedding EP a few months ago. On record, their unconventional take on pop is as shambolic as it is brilliant and tonight's performance was no different. The battling duo of keyboards are chaotic, pulsating notes spilt and echo off each other while vibrant drumbeats ring out and the occasional xylophone sing bright melodies. But when it all comes together, in the pounding synth riff in Wedding, its not crisp enough to make the impact intended. This is the problem all night. The drama and authority of the band is diminished by sloppy delivery and poor sound, only during Endolphins' opening chant do any vocals break through the madness, and it leaves their set a little uninspiring.
The description I gave of El Guincho to my friend and fellow gig-goer beforehand was “He's a man with a drum” and, to be honest, its basically true but the jumble of exotic noises and exuberant beats that Pablo Diaz-Reixa creates with just a floor tom, a tamborine and a sampler are unbelievable and utterly compelling. The cadences and calypso samples are looped into a mesmerising, colourful blanket of throbbing sounds and adding Diaz-Reixa's superb drumming and undecipherable chanting on top of this was too much for the front few rows of the crowd, who begin to move and shake more than I've ever seen a London crowd move. The energy and atmosphere produced by this one-man-band was incredibly impressive. It's his rhythms that do it and, believe me, El Guincho has an amazing feel for a rhythm. They're hypnotic and almost brainwashing in their immediacy and turn anyone who hears them into feverishly dancing zombies. I couldn't tell you which tracks were played off his debut release Alegranza as his half hour set all seep into one glowing, tropical carnival but everyone in Madame JoJo's, well in the front four rows, had a little Mardi Gras of their own.
After El Guincho, Fanfarlo needed to be truly special to even match him but unfortunately their pleasant style of folk pop wasn't up to the job. The flighty intro of Fire Escape began their set with its lush violin part and twinkling keyboards and it climaxes with its soft but melodic trumpet solo. But that was the highlight for me. Every song from there just sounded like the last, moulding into a long, nice but indifferent track. Just as I was leaving, the band brought a saw out to add the eerie wails of a singing saw to the mix but by that time I was a bit bored (sadly) and had to catch the last train home. I'd like to see them again, maybe when I'm less in awe of the support again, but it was the sound of samba drums that rebounded round my head on the way home.
Munch Munch - Endolphins
El Guincho - Costa Paraiso
Fanfarlo - Fire Escape
Check out the rest of my photos from the gig on my flickr