Shield Your Eyes/ Katadreuffe SUB071, Leiden 15/10/10

It’s a Friday night and it’s damned quiet at SUB071. Despite having a very inviting line up, the weather and the choice of evening (Friday in Leiden being pub/club night to all intents and purposes) means that the only punters to be seen outside ourselves are three Goth kids, sitting sullenly in the makeshift corridor /junk dumping area outside the venue. Just to add to the atmosphere, they make it no secret that they aren’t finding hanging out at SUB a comfortable experience at all. Some furtive phone calls (to other Goth teens) leads to a retreat to other more Goth-friendly climes. With nothing else to do (the gig is running 40 minutes late – in SUB speak, “on time”) we talk to Shield Your Eyes, a pleasant and quiet bunch of lads. It turns out that the bass player is playing his second gig with them, and a little bit nervous:  (later we discover that Shield Your Eyes have an almost Spinal Tap-like propensity for getting through bass players).

Luckily we get some of the faithful showing up which allows for a good atmosphere to build in time for Katadreuffe. To be fair, SUB could have 10 people in and you’d think the place was packed, such are its Tardis-like qualities...

Katadreuffe kick off as they always do, with a barrage of sumptuously rich textures and thundering, juddering rhythms which threaten to overwhelm their audience. It’s such a clatter of a sound: guitars and synths interweave to dramatic effect:  courtesy of some technological juju, and the rhythm section sounds like a workmen digging up the road. There are not a lot of key changes in their music, everything seems to be in D (I think) but within that constraint there’s a hell of a lot of variation in tempo & texture, and attitude.  And as usual, the surly stage presence is unlike nearly every other band in Holland; (only Natasha from Appie Kim & AC Berkheimer/Space Siren’s Gwen Douglas share the same hauteur). We get old favourites like Miniature Matadors (which still sounds like the glass from an office block shattering) and lots of new tracks which sound more proggy and adventurous. All in all a great gig from a very good band.

Shield Your Eyes shuffle onto the stage, and quietly prepare. To save being electrocuted the singer has put a jester’s hat on the mic. But the caution seems to be worth it as the gig is a revelation: the sound smashes through SUB like an angry comet. Where Katadreuffe were sleek, rich and grandiose, SYE are spiky, inflammatory and brittle as hell. Their songs are either querulous interrogations or hyper dreamy work-outs backed up by some furious guitar acrobatics and Bonham-esque drumming. And there’s no way the lad on bass has only played one gig with this band… Shield Your Eyes slalom through chords and tempos at bewildering speed. If the lad on guitar didn’t have to stop to tune up after every song (testament to the yoga he puts his strings through) I’m sure most of us here would have been sitting down through the weight of aural information being hurled our way. It’s truly fabulous for the 15 or so people who have stayed on to watch.

And of course we buy all the vinyl on offer, goes without saying.