The A.K.A.s / The Mint Chicks - Buffalo Bar
The AKAS are one of those bands it takes a little while to get into. About two songs, to be precise, before their eclectic guitar/keyboard sound really begins to take hold and you start to enjoy the crazy racket they produce. It’s that keyboard that really sets them apart from countless other New York bands; a lovely, swirling analogue vibe that swirls and rotates underneath the primeval guitars. Formed by one Mike Ski, The AKA's put absolutely everything into tonight’s performance; its the end of their tour, so you can forgive them for being a little heavy handed with the equipment. Gotta Get Outta Here was a highlight of the set, a thundering rocket of a song, dedicated to the sadness of being stuck in a boring day job. It's nothing original, to be sure, but The AKA's keyboard heavy riffs bring a certain explosiveness to the song, just swirling and bubbling underneath there. Generation Vex, again, managed to ignite the crowd, possibly 'cos it followed a rather odd description of how they have been trying to get people to register and vote against George Bush - much kudos, in a sort of ‘right kids!’ fashion, but rather irrelevant here. Ski has something of the Zach De La Roche about him, in terms of performance as well as vocals, and the combination of this, the passionate performance, and seventies vibe make The AKA's a band with some charisma.
The Mint Chicks are something of a Trades Description problem. You might expect to see some sort of kick-ass girl group, but you'd be a million miles off with that guess. It's more like violent electronica played with guitars and drums. The Yeah Yeah Yeah's are allegedly fans, so that might give you some idea. It's angular rock, but there’s no power chords here, nor are there any other rock references to mention. It’s something like Joy Division might sound like, if Joy Division were a pure punk band. Bad example, perhaps, but there’s something bleak and disturbing about this band. Bursts of white, high pitched, almost industrial noise together with machine like drumming, slightly reminiscent of At The Drive In or Mars Volta. Their Post No Bills sounded like the end of the world, a sort of high pitched noise with solid beats punching in from the drums. When they played a track called A Quick Show of Hands the electronic squealing (that underpins most of the set) actually began to hurt. Octogen, Octogen, Octogen (for which the single cover is pictured) was a rolling slab of spiky beats and noise. Kody Nielson, on vocals, is a pure performer, a blur of arms and uses the mike like a weapon, and manages to embody the sense of anguish that the songs suggest. It was as though the band were signaling to the audience, rather than playing to them. It was most definitely a distress signal. A gruesome mix of hardcore noise, angst and guitars that’s as compelling to watch as a car crash.
If you like the sound of The Mint Chicks, they’re playing The Buffalo Bar, Highbury Corner once more on Tuesday 9th June. Admission is free to Artrocker members, and to join the club, merely register at the Artrocker site. Easy peasy.