At a time when we see the regular haemorrhaging of independent live music venues, the Crescent in York is clearly doing something right. Following hot on the heels of The Murder Capital last Sunday and Soft Machine the previous night, the ‘Sold Out’ sign is once again being placed outside this former working men’s club.
In what is yet another first class gig put on here by that most estimable of local promoters Please Please You, tonight it is the turn of Snapped Ankles to play to a full house at this venue. The very last ticket for this show had flown out of the Crescent front door several weeks ago showing just how far the self-described agro-cultural punktronica quartet have come since I saw first them a couple of years back in front of only a handful of people early one afternoon in a little tent at the Doune The Rabbit Hole festival in Scotland.
Alongside this marked surge in their popularity there have been several other significant changes for Snapped Ankles in the interim. The band’s long-time nucleus of Austin (diatribes) and Chestnutt (squeeks) has been joined by Russell (rolls) and Parry (wonks) and the Snapped Ankles live experience – ably assisted by Evans, a sound meister in sheep’s clothing – has become even more intense, even more relentless.
There is additional chaos; by the time they reach ‘Drink and Glide’ three songs in, Austin is already knee-deep in the packed crowd and come ‘Rechargeable’ he is actually behind the bar stretching the extension cable on his microphone to its absolute limit. And to intensity, relentlessness and chaos, Snapped Ankles have also further developed their visual presentation.
Other than the burning red LED light on Chestnutt’s antlered head, the stage is completely immersed in a sea of green for the entire performance, this primary colour reflecting Snapped Ankles’ advanced woodland leanings. Given the absurdly high levels of humidity and steam inside the Crescent tonight, though, the forest that they create owes far more to the Amazon than ever it does their current location near Epping.
From ‘Let’s Revel’ to ‘Johnny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin’, Snapped Ankles delve deep inside their inner-Fall, Goat, Can and Captain Beefheart to find one long meaningful groove and then proceed to just hammer both it and us into a rather helpless but joyful submission.
Diversification would seem to be one of the keys to the continuing survival of many independent live music venues and the Crescent achieves this by putting on food – the ‘beer & a buffet for a fiver’ is an exciting new initiative – alongside more traditional barroom staples like billiards and pool. Add pub quizzes, comedy shows, regular DJs, line dancing classes, a meeting place for local DIY publishers, and record fairs to the mix and it soon becomes abundantly clear that the Crescent is not just a place in which to enjoy live music.
And Snapped Ankles firmly embrace this pioneering spirit of diversity giving us one of the most exciting live musical experiences that is around today.
Photos: Simon Godley
More photos from this show can be found HERE