As we descend to the cave-like basement of The Shacklewell Arms we’re met with the sight of a bank robber, a wild west sheriff and a demon being cheered on by Halloween’s Michael Myers, Kylo Ren, a nun and both Satan and Jesus. No, wait… make that two Jesuses (Jesi? I’m not quite sure what the appropriate plural is for this situation). No, they’ve not been dropping acid into the lager, this is the annual splatter-fest that is the Raw Meat and Roadkill Records Halloween Ball.
The aforementioned collection of outifts belong to opening act Gravey who are getting things off to a suitably ghoulish start, throwing scraps of post-punk bassline, darkly twinkling shoegaze guitar and hauntingly breathy vocals into the cauldron to provide a touch of black magic that ignites the evening’s proceedings.
The Cosmics have raided their local fancy-dress store for an unsettling children of The Shining motif for their set, and proceed to blast through a set of fuzzed up garage rock powerful enough to shake the dead from their graves.
The problem with Halloween costumes, as Frauds drummer Chris Francombe has discovered, is that they’re not always condusive to actually being able to play your instrument, so unbound from the mummy’s bandages that had enshrouded him, he takes his seat in the Shack’s drum cave and leaves the spooky stuff to bandmate Mikey Alvarez, whose demonic garb seems to have gone beyond mere facepaint and infected him with an impish energy tonight as he prowls the stage with a Mephistophelian glint in his eye, proving that the devil does indeed have all the best tunes. Adding ever more new material each time we see them to the mischievous post-hardcore of debut LP With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice, we await further developments with baited breath.
Before we move on to the final offering of the night, there’s the important matter of tonight’s best fancy dress award to be dealt with, and from a line-up including a mummy, Eve (complete with snake and apple) and Motley Crue, the time-tested method of loudest audience response determines that this year’s headless skeleton trophy is awarded to a gloriously ghoulish shrunken head.
Taking us to the witching hour, headliners Table Scraps bring the righteous noise to this East London basement, tearing through a set of breakneck garage rock riffage dressed as Jesus and a pair of nuns and the sound sears through the air like holy water through a vampire’s soul. Hallelujah brothers and sisters, Table Scraps have come from the promised land to deliver us from merely mortal rock and roll, and I feel my spirit rising.
Review and photography by Paul Maps