The Amazing Snakeheads at Electric Ballroom
The air inside Camden’s Electric Ballroom on Thursday evening is humid with anticipation and a meniscus of tensile energy waiting to somehow be punctured. Since releasing their debut album Amphetamine Ballads in April 2014, The Amazing Snakeheads have presided over a snowballing reputation as a formidable live concern, as well as having replaced two-thirds of their original line-up in what seemed like an act of premature self-immolation.
Considering we have been mired within the bowels of recession for the last four or five years, this reviewer has long lamented the woeful dearth of bands prepared to harness the bridling anger, disenchantment and alienation felt by so many, and in effect, provide the soundtrack to this despair and discontent. Those who listened out in hope were, for a time, presented with The Enemy – that bunch of sub-Jam scrappy urchins – and more recently the unremarkable Eagulls. Here at last though, it would appear that The Amazing Snakeheads have managed to encapsulate the raw aggression and seething rage into a sound and performance style that is both menacing and joyous.
Musically, they have the grime and febrile rhythmic tension of Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party fused with Iggy & the Stooges, together with the reverberated tremolo guitar sounds of a punk/rockabilly band. Singer/guitarist Dale Barclay stalks the stage with the deranged (mis-)purpose and grimace of a drunk at closing time desperate not to have to head home without first having a fight. His vocals sound like sandpaper screaming in a Glaswegian accent. During one song he hurls himself, together with mic stand and guitar, into the teeming stage-front throng, whipping up a delirious frenzy among the fray.
One reviewer has described them as being exactly the band you’d imagine Frank Begbie (psychotic character from Trainspotting) to be a member or a die-hard fan of, and it’s really quite difficult to put it much more appositely than that.
With 2014 being a year in which Scotland’s national pride and identity have been forensically examined, The Amazing Snakeheads are the perfect vehicle for the underlying animosity and fury to ripple into heavily distorted life. “Glasgow is a free city” Barclay spits at one point.
It’s hard to discern whether the Irvine Welsh-esque stage presence of the band is authentic or merely a well-crafted act, but taking them at face value it’s impossible not to be utterly convinced as to both the importance and the potential of this band. Certainly, after a skinful of strong lager and a barfight, The Amazing Snakeheads could well sound like the new Sex Pistols.
For further information about The Amazing Snakeheads and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Here It Comes Again here: