Supersonic Festival 2010 - Sunday - The Custard Factory, Birmingham
Heading back to the Custard Factory for another of day of experimental wonder mixed in with a few musical legends, the weather is still pretty miserable and it’s still really, really bloody cold. But that’s not going to stop this scribe from enjoying the spacey and crushingly heavy doom of Bong. Incorporating some psychedelic slide guitar and hypnotic drones, these guys are a great start to the day.
Next up over in The Old Library is one-time Efterklang member Peter Broderick and his looping and enchanting folk. Playing tracks like ‘And With The Notes In My Ears and ‘Below It’ from Home, mastery of the looping pedal sees him layer violin, acoustic guitar and his own effect to beautiful effect and he has the crowd firmly in the palm of his hand throughout. Back over in the Outside stage, another Broderick takes to the stage. In this case it’s Heather Leigh Broderick alongside legendary drummer Chris Corsano under the guise of Jailbreak. Combining free-jazz beats and noisy drones with Heather’s voice is intriguing at first, but all gets a bit dull quite quickly.
Daniel O’Sullivan has been a fixture at Supersonic for several years, whether it be playing with Sunn O))), Guapo or someone else. Today he’s brought his Mothlite project to Birmingham, and this is one that is sorely underrated as the sparse crowd goes to show. Drums clatter throughout ‘Disappear’ as O’Sullivan wails in his own inimitable and emotional style, coming across as a noisy, modern-day Talk Talk. James Blackshaw on the other hand packs out the Old Library, with the audience all sitting on the floor to take in his 12-string guitar instrumentals. ‘Cross’ from The Glass Bead Game is particularly good, though the lengthy periods of time he tunes his guitar between songs start to get a [em]tad[/em] frustrating.
Master Musicians Of Bukkake instead take a long time actually getting onstage. Twenty minutes after they were supposed to start, they engulf the stage head to toe in red robes and launch into their droney, exotic kraut-rock. Unfortunate then, that I had to leave early on to get a good spot in the Theatre Space for San Francisco duo Barn Owl. Their new album Ancestral Star has been one of the highlights of the year, and in the dark and intimate confines of this cinema it comes across brilliantly against the backdrop of some particularly spaced out visuals.
Squeezing into the Old Library to witness prog-disco-doom troupe Chrome Hoof was practically an impossible task, drawing easily the biggest crowd of the weekend inside this particular building. Playing tracks from new album Crush Depth is quite a sight to behold, with their juddering rhythms and the magical front-woman that is Lola. These guys really know how to put on a show and the crowd lap every last note up.
Michael Rother is another man who has had a long-standing relationship with Supersonic, and this year the prospect of him playing with Tall Firs Andrew Mullen and Sonic Youth sticks-man Steve Shelley under the Hallogallo 2010 banner was a prospect you just couldn’t refuse. And man did they not disappoint. Shelley's taught and powerful drumming style is the perfect foil to Rother's spacey electronics and fuzzy guitar riffs. Loud, motorik and rhythmic kraut-rock is the order of the night and Rother and co succeed in impressing the entire crowd, and possibly claiming the 'band of the entire weekend' crown.
But we’ve still got the legendary Swans to contend with over at Space 2. Michael Gira’s reputation precedes him, and there’s a definite sense of high anticipation in tonight’s gathering mass of people. When someone finally enters the stage, a chiming drone ensues to start things off. And then it keeps on going, and going, and going till finally Gira enters the stage with his cohorts and they tear into ‘No Words/ No Thoughts’ from the recently released My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. While their set is intense at points, particularly during ‘Sex, God, Sex’, there seems to be something missing. Never does it really feel engaging or as visceral as expected, and while it is by no means a bad set, it does feel a little disappointing.
So once again we say goodbye to Birmingham and goodbye to Supersonic. The festival for people who really want to discover something new.