Down in the concrete basement of the Southbank Centre, a few eager fans awaited the domineering stage presence of The Amazing Snakeheads. Two months after the release of their much acclaimed album, the room aptly feels underground, with a vibe of the degenerates and reprobates lingering, in much cases life imitating art.
Concrete, industrial, dark and ominous with an urban collage welcoming you into this basement venue, production arch, within the established Southbank, with its striking lighting rig, and pop-up bar, is highly befitting, as rogues, men dressed as droogs, and rudeness prevails. At one point prior to the lights and amps on stage being switched on, a punter with a hat, and backpack, starts swaying, trying to dance with the masses, of who was around him, lighting up a spliff.
And the fans or reprobates were adequately entertained, overwhelmed by the dominating stage presence of Dale Barclay. I was naturally also incredulously entranced by this front man’s stage presence, which was everything I would expect, after listening to their debut work.
Seductive, most of the Amazing Snakeheads were distinctly topless, thrusting their weight about the stage, with little apprehension about putting themselves about the stage, and in fact, noticing South London friends Fat White Family in the crowd, ask the lead singer up to sing with Dale, creating havoc and discord simultaneously on stage.
If the crowd did not already have their debut album, I proclaim that most at this gig will now have it. This live performance of tracks such as Memories, Flatlining and the dark and ropier I’m a Vampire and Where Is My Knife would convert any that are dubious of this band newly signed to Domino Records.
And that was just the support. Headlining this gig were punk band from Missouri, Radkey, blatantly inspired by bands like The Misfits and The Clash, and a culmination or trio of brothers. Self-taught, these guys have managed to perform with some greats already, and tonight is no exception, the Snakeheads having already lubricated the listeners for more raw, down and out, broody rock.
Tight, and showmen, Radkey put in a performance that would keep any overzealous Misfits fans ecstatic, and early into their late-starting set, it is possible to pick out James Lavelle himself, like a fanboy, taking stills, perhaps filming a riff or two. Following two EPs, a UK tour with Drenge and appearance on Jools Holland in 2013, the band remind us of their youthful age in their references in their music. Bar a couple of more insidious tracks, there is an element of naïve playfulness from the siblings, sublime in family domestics but not really oozing of punk, and those more hardcore elements of their chosen genre. Despite clear Danzig idolization, it is improbable that they will level with this Misfit, not perhaps in the same way that Barclay can.
However, there is definitely potential there with their ‘rad’ persona, and unlike the Amazing Snakeheads who have lunged successfully into the more hardcore of the Glasgow music scene, Dee, Isaiah and Solomon may just ripen with age. I guess we have that to look forward to.
All photos by Viktor Frankowski