These Monsters / Sennen Sub071, Leiden 19/11/09

This last two years, SUB’s been about only place worth going to, to see something special and out of the ordinary.

Two years after they’d blitzed Sub with a full-on noise attack, These Monsters were scheduled to play with top Dutch post-rockers Sennen in what looked like a cracking double bill. So far, so good. Arriving at the venue (along with a surprising amount of other These Monsters lovers, drawn across the spectrum of SUB’s audience – from the chic nerdy clan who can be classed as the new SUB goers, to the battle-hardened crusties who constituted the original audience), it was clear all was not well.  These Monsters, playing in Leipzig the previous evening, hadn’t got to the venue as yet. What’s more, there was no message with SUB as to where they actually were. Explanations ranged from the usual “Gekke Engels” (crazy Brits) to something darker (German police). Whatever, the problem was compounded by the fact that These Monsters had seemingly promised Sennen that the Monsters’ drum kit would be more than adequate for both bands. Cue huge rush to find SUB’s kit, safely nestled away in the bowels of the building.


Some start…


Still, once Sennen had sound-checked, eaten and negotiated the replacement drum kit, the show started, Gekke Engels or no. And this was, given the preceding circumstances, a mighty fine gig. Sennen are a tough, meditative act; driven by some rich bass lines and informed by a great deal of post-rock inflections and flourishes. The band’s quality comes from their relentless, bass-driven vibe, though you can’t really see this stuff working live unless it’s at least 5 minutes long, and you have a trusting crowd. It was noticeable that once the SUB audience relaxed the band’s groove was well and truly laid down to all and sundry. There were bits of brass thrown in now and again, which somehow pointed in the direction of what Godspeed! did way back when. If you haven’t seen them, I’d highly recommend that you do. 


And lo! About half way through Sennen’s gig, These Monsters turned up. Breathless with tales of jams, police, and border checks (when was the last time you heard about that?) the band un-packed at fearsome speed, got some beer down their necks and proceeded to knock out a classic, riff-filled, beer fuelled set. What makes this band really special isn’t the thrash-tastic volume, or airship-sized space they can shake out of their songs, rather it’s the undercurrent of sleaze that gives them a sensual sheen few bands in this genre can boast. The sax does tip its titfer pretty ferociously in the direction of Roxy (and sometimes Gong too), but Incendiary would rather fold as an organisation than say that is a bad thing. In fact the sax is crucial to the balance of most of the track played, as it allowed a textural dimension not available to a standard power rock/thrash act, however psychedelisized.


Some of SUB’s newer audience, thinking that a UK band would guarantee something a bit more – well, poppy, slipped away disgruntled, and shell-shocked. But fine. There are plenty of UK indie acts doing the rounds elsewhere. This last two years, SUB’s been about only place worth going to, to see something special and out of the ordinary. Incendiary’s only regret is missing out on the bloody vinyl...