Evil Blizzard at Hare and Hounds

Support: Bushism| Einstellung
November 17, 2018 at Hare and Hounds
Promoter: Black Hole Promotions

Seems like panto season starts earlier ever year now, doesn’t it? Even here in Birmingham, the virtual birthplace of screeching “they’re trying to ban Christmas!” hysteria, the festive German market is already open and this bunch of shabby old dames are in town to ply their “entertainments” on the boards of The Hare and Hounds. Evil Blizzard, the wrong answer to a question nobody asked, not only persist long after anyone thought it either likely or necessary, but are even riding high on some sort of Frankenstein’s donkey made of idiocy and disappointment. Tonight is a sell out, and despite promising us all they’d take 2019 off they’ve just announced their biggest-ever gig next year with Pigsx7 and many others at Preston Guildhall. They’ve a new single, the appropriately titled ‘Unleash The Misery’, which comes from their third and, this is what really takes the biscuit, arguably best album yet. Truly we live in worrying and confusing times.

Before all that though they’ve managed to coax out a couple of local acts who only make occasional forays into the world. Bushism have popped up at the bottom of the bill now and again in a variety of forms for a few years. Now a four-piece of table-top electronics, bass and two guitars they’re coming more clearly into focus. It could be practice or it could be the bigger p.a., but they sound better than they have on any previous occasion I’ve caught them. They make a cloud of textured space-rock-drone-funk that’s either one long piece or several bleeding into each other, it’s hard to tell. I know they used to be a completely improvised affair but there seems to be slightly more structure to it now. It’s not jazz or improvisation in any aggressively free-music-type sense, more like hazy layers of sound shuffling in and out of each other – head-music to drift away to. Most of the time it’s hard to work out who’s playing what. They’ve got a debut cassette release out and they may have been playing that, no-one’s sure. As there’s a curfew on the venue tonight, they’re onstage the minute the doors are open playing to just a handful of us, but the room slowly fills with Blizzard fans who seem to enjoy it even though their only concession to showbiz is the bass player’s stylish hat.

Einstellung have been around for years, and now and then turn up to grace us with their presence. You know how some bands talk a lot of rubbish about only making music for their own enjoyment and not caring that much if other people are into it? Einstellung actually are that band; they make records every so often and they play live when they feel like it. Most, if not all of them, are also involved in Lash Frenzy who put on one of the wildest, most incredible performances I’ve ever seen at Supersonic festival, which is no small achievement. They play heavy, propulsive, instrumental rock music, a kind of kraut metal hybrid, Sabbath and Neu! tearing down the autobahn. It’s a big, beautiful noise that sweeps you along. It could be louder, but they’re wonderful and there’s much muttering of approval from new converts when they finish.

And so to the main event ladies and gentlemen: a debased charade; cheap thrills in rubber masks; the worst show on earth. Kav, Stomper and Filthy Dirty are centre-stage dressed in shiny white and silver – like the devil made an East 17 tribute act on his lunch break and they were all Brian. They are greeted with boos from the faithful, many of whom have travelled to be here and vent their fake hostility. Blizzard’s enthusiastic embrace of a “we know we’re shit, we’re idiots and we don’t care” stance has become virtually a guiding principle. It’s a smart move, effectively curtailing any real derision by openly feeding on it. I’m trying to conjure up a not too distasteful Gary Glitter insult but Filthy Dirty is way ahead of me, adding in lines from ‘Did You Miss Me?’ as they reach the end of opener ‘Hello’. They pile straight into ‘Sacrifice’, still probably their best song but sounding weirdly subdued or rushed tonight. As a long-term constant in the set, I guess they could be forgiven for tiring of it. New single ‘Unleash The Misery’ is better. Another dumb chant of disaffection, it makes good use of the contrast between Side’s Lydon whine and Filthy Dirty’s gruffer vocal, erm, “stylings”.

Disappointment guaranteed. Tonight sees a cherished illusion shattered as the widely held belief that a Blizzard gig could be improved by power failure turns out to be another myth. While it’s still not really loud enough (I mean, you should be able to feel the bass in your stomach right? It’s an eternal irony with Blizzard that there’s never enough bass) they somehow contrive to blow the power during ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ and the resulting chaos isn’t anything you want to witness. The mask eats into the face, the curtain is pulled back and they are left flailing about in clown shoes. A small child stands and points, “hang on, they’re shit!”. What do you do when your jokey shtick outruns you? Put your hands up? “Even by our standards this is the shittest gig we’ve ever done”. I doubt that’s even close to true but it briefly seems like everything is going wrong and momentum is lost. With a strict 10 pm cut-off they don’t have long to fight back against the persistent gremlins. . . ‘Slimy Creatures’ rattles out pretty effectively, overcoming technical problems through sheer bloody mindedness.

Not until ‘Are You Evil?’ do they seem back to full power; a relentless slab of moronic goth metal with a glam chant-chorus it’s what they do best. Blizzard dredge through 40 odd years of grimy underground rock and stitch the bits they like together into disfigured sock puppets with a surprisingly pop thread. A warning from history, a chilling vision of the future. For all that they play dumb they’re far less conservative and retro than some of their more well-thought-of psych-rock peers. As the frightened child on ‘Pull God From The Sky’ says “all the stories have been written, all the songs have now been sung, all the paintings have been painted, all the TV shows are re-runs“. An acceptance of the ultimate futility of their efforts is also a liberation. It might not be new, it might not matter or mean anything, but the ritual of the rock show always was a pantomime and it’s still a good night out. The habitual show-stopping chaos is somewhat muted by their standards, out played by the earlier difficulties, but guitars are handed into the crowd, there’s stage diving and a great wall of noise. Like it should be. Evil Blizzard: not the rock ‘n’ roll you want, the rock ‘n’ roll you deserve.

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