The end of Dark Fair’s set bleeds out onto Johnston Street as I arrive at The Old Bar, later than I’d planned. Anyone who knows me can attest to how much I love a good two-piece rock band, and the positive things I’ve been hearing about the duo were enough to get me to leave a friend’s birthday drinks early, but clearly not early enough to catch them.
Even after going to countless gigs, I still get a fair bit of enjoyment from watching bands set up and River of Snakes is no different, especially as bassist Elissa Rose expertly adjusts the dials on her Big Muff with her heel-clad foot. Once they get started the tone of her bass is everything, which is good because clearly gremlins have gotten into Raul Sanchez’ pedals and his guitar drops out more than once through the set. It causes a few delays in the set and one song has to get dropped for time, but the crowd don’t seem to mind so much.
When it’s time for Claws & Organs’ set, drummer Nick Hart and bassist Heather Thomas wait patiently for David Crowe to join them on stage but the second he’s up there, they kick the crowd fair in the guts with a ripping version of ‘Die!’ While Heather rocks the bass and lead vocal combo, David flails around on stage manipulating the guitar sounds as much by altering his proximity to the amp as by actually playing. They switch up the lead vocals between songs and the juxtaposition of their voices gives each song it’s own unique feel.
Unfortunately the gremlins that affected River of Snakes’ set are clearly still residing in the guitarists’ corner of the stage and David spends a fair bit of time trying to get sound back. He stays silent right through their incredibly morose cover of The Swingers’ ‘Counting The Beat’ but, not knowing what it should have sounded like, I didn’t mind the minimal approach.
A few changes in the pedal board means the guitar seems to work perfectly again for killer new single ‘Alphabetti Spaghetti’ but it doesn’t last long. The crowd starts to get restless but David works out that the problem is the Jaguar. With a new guitar and everything working again, they power through the rest of the set, reeling me in with the incredible fuzzed out guitars and intense energy. The sound is very reminiscent of Sonic Youth, and I love it. While Heather delivers her cool vocals in set closer ‘Animal’, David thrashes about more recklessly than ever, finally ploughing through the drumkit for good measure, leaving Nick sprawling, the crowd applauding and me looking up their next gig so I can make sure I get along again.