LondonNet Club Night Review
Notting Hill Arts Club
21 Notting Hill Gate W11 3JQ
Tube: Notting Hill Gate
UKP5, free before 8 PM
Click here to check
The Death of Conformity
Death Disco chops through Indie-Pop, to Electro, to Death
Rock, to taking over rock & roll...
WHILE THE TITLE "Death Disco" seems to lend itself more
towards a strange electro irony than diversity - it's the latter
that defines the night. Club night with Alan McGee (of the Poptones
label) prides itself on being as unpredictable as possible, and
The Notting Hill Arts Club, Notting Hill's finest hodgepodge of
a basement dive, punk rock club, and artsy-wine-bar plays host.
The shadowy, charming basement buried between a hairdresser shop
and a café attracts a loyal legion of fashionistas, hipsters,
punk rock kids, artists, and hip-hop fans - as well as several people
who are a mix of all of the above. On the decks, McGee, Billy Watson
and others keep everybody happy with a mix of hip hop, reggae, indie,
and classic rock; they create an environment where no one is confused
by hearing Jay-Z, the Rolling Stones, and the Smiths played consecutively.
On the walls, projections of old newspaper and 'zine headlines share
space with projected photos of David Bowie and the Clash, who stand
watch over the dance floor. The bar offers plenty of exotic fuel,
with beers from Brazil and Turkey offered for less than 3UKP, alongside
extensive listings of fancy cocktails and Absinthe based drinks.
Far from just leaving things at the level of a "typical"
club night, "Death Disco" (like other Arts Club nights)
prides itself on its diverse selection of live music, and that diversity
is often stretched as far as it can go - an early October show saw
New York's French Kicks, America's next big thing, opened as a surprise
special guest. Their no-nonsense dirty and delicious indie pop,
equally driven by keyboards and guitars, was similar to the Walkmen,
but with smoother, less affected vocals. The French Kicks weren't
achingly original, but hooky and dancey enough to make anyone smile.
The Cornerstones followed with a blend of pop rock that owed itself
to early Radiohead and the Beatles. Their familiar yet original
sound was a bit harder to place than first expected, and seems rooted
in some undistinguishable American-pop-music-place. Unlike many
of their indie peers, they were much less focused on art, and much
more on song writing.
It was the next band - Glasgow's Torqamada - that oddly defined
everything "Death Disco": fitting in by not fitting in
at all. The crew of made up goth longhairs launched into a sloppy
mess of rock n' roll, goth-core, death rock, metal, rockabilly,
and punk. Their vocalist mixed a fashion-core, hair metal attitude
(complete with faux American accent stage banter) with a mix of
singing, rapid-fire barking, and 80's hardcore vocals. They were
at their best when they sacrificed a bit of groove to be darker
and more melodic. If nothing else, they were decidedly different,
and crackingly entertaining, although one club-goer described them
as "self-indulgent middle class suicide crap", and the
cheers were almost equalled by jeers.
The mix of the first three bands made headliners the Rifles a slight
let down. The initial charm of their melodic rocking Brit-pop mixed
with punk undertones tapered off, but they were certainly a crowd
In spite of this ending, any given night at "Death Disco"
won't blur together or particularly cohere, which is exactly what
makes it brilliant.