ON A FRIDAY
The Venue, Oxford
(Presentation of the article in the NME Originals issue about Radiohead from 2003)
Terrible name. Apt for beer-gutted pub rockers, perhaps, but ill-suited to the astonishing intensity of this bunch. On A Friday swing between uneasy calm and crazed desperation, hinting at extremes that belie the just-got-paid/let's-get-pissed overtones of their moniker. Like Kingmaker, they've opted for the rock-as-catharsis principle, exorcising demons at a rate of knots and steering well clear of anything approaching frivolity.
Their angst-ridden paroxysms frequently depend on their sheer volume - without warning, piercing screams will fly from the stage while the band pound their instruments. Within seconds, they'll revert to a disciplined, razor-edged mode, revealing a schizophrenia that gives songs like 'Stop Whispering' a frightening volatility, furthered by the frantic movements of their singer; a diminutive, close-cropped young man whose jerky demeanor sums up On A Friday's screwed-up appeal.
They leave us with a speeding hymn to megalomania entitled 'Nothing Touches Me' - a perfect example of their manic-but-melodic charms, and an indication of credible self-confidence. "Promising" seems something of an understatement.
DRILL EP (PARLOPHONE)
A band I haven't seen yet, despite their support on the Catherine Wheel tour, but the 'Drill' EP has endured two weeks on the old stereo without losing face. Does this mark the dawning of the post shoe-gazing era? 'Prove Yourself' starts with some deceptively winsome vocals, before exploding into a monster headache, while the other three tracks encompass elements of Moose and House of Love, before springing off with the thrashy, disposable 'Thinking About You'.