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LondonNet Clubs Guide

LondonNet Club Night Review

Death Disco

6pm-1am, Wednesdays
Notting Hill Arts Club
21 Notting Hill Gate W11 3JQ
Tube: Notting Hill Gate
UKP5, free before 8 PM
Click here to check schedule!

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 favourite.

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.

(Steve Marshall)


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