Big Joan / X27 - Buffalo Bar

Annette, (pictured) Big Joan's vocalist, has an absolutely superb voice. Now we don't mean she can merely sing, but has a voice that's more of an unearthly instrument in itself. Whether she's whispering, howling or mouthing lyrics, she's nothing sort of breathtaking and you will be impressed. There are times when she bypasses the microphone completely and just sings without amplification. If you weren't watching, you'd never know, and she is no mere shouter, oh no, her voice is like a warm knife, slicing through your brain. Not only that, but Big Joan has wonderful musicians to back that voice up; It's just guitar, bass and drums, but the noises that come out will force a quick double-take. Especially from the bass, it's inhuman, it grunts, groans and squeals like a pig. They sound very much influenced by the Au Pairs, The Fall and, maybe, PIL. The first song highlights the level of craftsmanship here. Throughout the first half of it, that bass and guitar sound like they are playing in different bands, both spiral wildly off onto their own sonic planets before suddenly crashing together for the halfway mark. This sort of thing continues throughout, and this band manages to throw up some genuine surprises. Squealing noises come from nowhere, Annette sings through a telephone and accompanies the drums by banging on a rubbish can. It's the sort of thing that bands usually do in a tongue in cheek 'look how crazy we are' sort of way, but not Big Joan, it's all part of the bigger picture. It's all been meticulously worked out and, as a whole, works really well. Talented, slightly crazy and exuding the sort of natural confidence and chemistry bands usually possess after thirty years of living in a van together. They are quickly forgiven for the early sound problems, which resulted in a huge, awkward gap between first and second song. Most support bands would find it virtually impossible to recover from this but Big Joan make it look almost part of the set.

Their website can be found here.

X27 are also plagued with equipment problems but most of that seems to be their fault. First one guitar string goes then another and that's what happens if you hit it like a bastard. It does nothing to slow them down, anyway. A three piece from Brooklyn, X27 are endearing rather than exciting, but only at first. They suffer from a weak opening, but quickly recover and end up looking far more confident and relaxed and the music improved as a result. This is short, sharp shock stuff, played with more than a passing nod to Sonic Youth and no worse for that. Bass heavy and guitar sharp, they swap around for the vocals, some from Carmen X (bass) and the rest from Rikkeh (guitar) and this gives them a nice sort of contrast, though both are blessed with similar broken glass vocal chords. On songs like ‘Treasure X’, where the bass sounds like something vile and monstrous, those vocals really add to the sound. You know exactly what you’re going to get with a band like this, and it’s great when they don’t disappoint. It’s bluster, mayhem and attitude all the way. Not quite as overwhelmingly brilliant as Big Joan, but a worthy headliner none the less.

They, too, can be found on the internet and have a page here.

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