By: Jake Murray

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Support: Puffer | website

The Shacklewell Arms | January 26, 2015

Guitar music is not dead. Guitar music is not dead. Guitar music is not dead. Guitar music is not dead. Guitar music is NOT dead. Good, we’ve got that out of the way, then…

We’re assembled in the Dalston stronghold of cool – The Shacklewell Arms – for another of Bad Vibrations’ nights of chug & thunder: Black Moth, with support from Puffer. It’s been something like three years since the Leeds five-piece took the venue by storm, and with another excellent album under their belts since then it’s looking promising.

Opening band Puffer are a fitting support act for the night and exactly what one would expect from an East London band: wardrobed straight out of a Vice photoshoot in exclusively black vintage clothing, with oversized hats and shaved bits of hair, and a singer that looks exactly like Badmotorfinger-era Chris Cornell. No resemblance vocally however. Their set is is impressively loud for such a tiny venue, so much so in fact that it’s practically impossible to hear anything (including the band). The bass guitar in particular drowns out guitars, which in turn drown out vocals, and it certainly doesn’t help that the bass’s tuning or intonation seems to be off, giving the every song that off-putting out of tune dissonance. There are true moments of bolstering excellence throughout the set and when the group lock in the sheer weight and density of their music is something to behold. Ultimately Puffer’s set demonstrates potential to impress, and at points delivers with style and attitude, but does what any true support band should: hungers the crowd for their headliner.

The room packs in tight while we’re at the bar and skulking back to our corner at the near of the room proves much more difficult in anticipation of THE MOTH. In an almost direct bridge following the slow-heavy of Puffer’s set, Black Moth lurch into action with ‘The Undead King of Rock ‘N’ Roll’. Immediately there’s a noticeable difference in size, tightness and sound in the room: the mix is a little quieter, but allows every element to step into it’s own, rather than being lost in a haze of fuzz and acoustic reflections. Harriet Bevan’s dry vocals are clear-cut through the wall of guitars and the onstage atmosphere screams FUN… watch out Hackney!

The band pummels through the more driving tracks from Condemned to Hope [which saw the band trying their hand at slower and more melodic songs], to an unrelenting and engaged crowd response. Without ever more than 20 seconds between songs we find ourselves half an hour or so into the set before Bevan take a moment to dedicate the night’s performance to Aphrodite’s Child singer Demis Roussos, “A beautiful man who wrote beautiful music”, who’d passed just the day before. The room erupts in celebration to the tribute and the gods of rock are happy.

A touch of some older material, including the thrashtastic bonkers-brilliant ‘Chicken Shit’ puts the room in a frenzy (it seems there’s some older fans here tonight) and ‘Blackbirds Fall’ works the necks of the crowd, including the couple in front of me who don’t seem to be able to refrain from making out constantly. Thanks guys! The heavy continues, some pits break out and then, at the peak one particular crescendo BOOM. “Well, that’s that song then” says Bevan. “We broke the stage! does that mean we’re really good or really shit?” It means, as far as this reporter is concerned, that Black Moth just riffed the Earth itself so hard that it had to kill the stage. Bravo.

The worlds shortest encore interlude takes place, in which the band aren’t even able to get off the stage… though it is a miracle that all five of them squeeze on in the first place, given that at several points throughout the ~60mins set it looks as though they might erupt offstage. Bevan asks if the crowd wants more and toys with some kids at the front, probing them to guess the song. It’s obvious, in the best way. It could only really be one song though, right? ‘The Articulate Dead’ is searing hot and brutal. Someone makes the silly decision to crowdsurf without realising there’s nowhere to go in a venue this small, so spends most of the song just being passed around like a platter of deviled eggs, and then that’s it. A tight, synergetic performance from a band technically proficient in every way, but with the energy of a gang of teenagers in their parents basement.

Dear mum and dad: I got moth’d \m/

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