Trevor's Head at The Unicorn, London

Support: Cavalli| Hearse Pileup
December 8, 2016 at The Unicorn, London

There can’t have been more than 50 people in the room.

But that half-ton of bodies were very, very lucky as they got to watch the Cavalli frontman – a bearded chap clad in an Ohhms T-shirt – coerce all sorts of fantastic noise from his guitar. As the bass and drum marked out a solid groove, occasionally crashing into a high-speed punk racket, the guitarist weaved all sorts of melody around the bottom end.

It was like watching Yawning Man if the desert rock pioneers had spent a few weeks listening to Crass records. Noisy, noodly (in a good way) and very, very good. Edu (or Eddy – my ears were ringing too much to properly catch his name), the guitarist, introduced his bands by shouting: “We are anti-fascist – just like you!” And that is pretty much all he said, before launching into ‘Drum Destroyer’ embarking on the first of his six-string trips into a void that many of the audience probably were not expecting.

Amid body contortions and head nods that would surely have led to aches the next morning, Edu/Eddy led the band through much of their self-titled EP (available on Bandcamp, kids – get it) as well as a host of other numbers with extended jams, angry, harsh vocals and some segments of wonderful melody.

The night was ostensibly to celebrate Christmas with loud guitar music – but the rendition of the Wham hit ‘Last Christmas’ by the first band, Hearse Pileup was as close as I heard to any association with the festive season.

Hearse Pileup (“as in a massive pileup of cars that carry dead people,” the dapper and exceedingly well spoken vocalist/guitarist explained) were an excellent opener. Their affinity for the ugly, dead or anger-inducing was clear in their music, which covered globalisation, the riots in Brixton, south London, early in the 21st century and the grind of daily life, through the means of riffingly good punk.

The Wham number served as the finale and it was an intentional abomination, beginning with a vibrato-laden psychobilly-style guitar, and it got the crowd singing along. Apart from this, they played one other cover, a sped-up version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. It fitted seamlessly with the rest of their set.

Trevor’s Head were the headline act and they are fresh from supporting Swedish stoners Greenleaf. Guitarist/vocalist Roger warmed up by joining in on one of Cavalli’s songs. Cavalli also had a hand in the main act’s set, as the guitarist broke his string midway through the first song, which sounded to my battered ears like ‘Blood Moon’, the opener on their Tricolossus album released in early 2016. He thankfully accepted Edu/Eddy’s offer of his guitar, before carrying on the gig.

‘Government Whores’ was a highlight of the band’s set, which unfortunately suffered from following Cavalli. Trevor’s Head make a satisfying, riffy, grunge-tinged racket, but their songs sounded a little… orthodox compared to the brilliance that had preceded them.

So I have to admit, I left early. It was mostly because I had to cycle across town to catch my train home, but partly because Cavalli had more than satisfied my urge for witnessing something special.

I was one of the lucky 50.

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