The 23 Enigma, Junk Time Party, Electric Trees – Sat 4th Aug 2012

The 23 Enigma / Junk Time Party / Electric Trees
Saturday 4 August 2012
Gig review by John Mclean

The Scream Lounge hosts another rocking night headlined by Croydon’s unofficial neighbourhood celebrities The 23 Enigma. The crowd is a vast mix of people gathered to wear masks, get drunk and commemorate the long awaited EP from THE 23 ENIGMA. It is always good to see a high number of people take part in the theme and for those who forget their mask (which is odd but acceptable) face painting is available from a charming tiger in the foyer at no extra cost. The people are looking for a good time and The Scream has it to give in generous doses.

ELECTRIC TREES

Croydon based trio ELECTRIC TREES are the first band up. Equipped with their progressive weighty sound, eager to get attention and share some of the hefty load. They infuse agitated guitar noise, plain offbeat drum beats and direct vocals to produce a fleshy bulk energy similar to At the Drive in or The 23 Enigma. Initially we get the impression that the music is quite grungy because the guys play with volume levels a lot. Loud and soft is a predominant theme that runs through each of their tracks and this reminds us of bands like The Pixies or Nirvana. As the set progresses and this concept loses its strength the set feels much more like a heavy Brit rock experience. Sure they are keen on guitar distortion and the songs are very noise driven but with such an absolutely English vocal and simplicity in song structure (even on the instrumental track) – more bangers’n’mash than cheese burger with fries! It sounds more like Muse if they decided to get heavier and change their singer. The music is not exactly incomparable but a good band nonetheless with an impressionable stage presence.

Find out more about ELECTRIC TREES at:
https://www.facebook.com/ElectricTrees

JUNK TIME PARTY

As JUNK TIME PARTY switch off the distortion pedals and take to the stage we adapt our ears for something easier to digest. The Croydon based quintet takes control of the stage and simultaneously capture our attention. They draw the crowd in close and immediately take us in a different direction with their buoyant, high spirited rock.

Their set is series of sharp, well structured songs with catchy lyrics, distributed well by a strong stage dynamic. The guys obviously have a good time performing together on stage and we feel that in the atmosphere. Unlike the band before JUNK TIME PARTY have a much greater ability to concentrate on making complete music since there are five people contributing to the final sound. They use extra instruments on top of your standard lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums and vocal set up to enhance their music and to create fuller, more complete songs. The general vibe reminds me of a Terrorvision gig.

Two fellas share the vocal, but with lead singer Gary Black also covering acoustic rhythm, it allows for Andy P to focus more on percussion and synthesiser. Gary Black is an animated character with a voice that makes me think of Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Scott Stapp (Creed) or Layne Staley (Alice in Chains). He looks a bit like a Ginger Wildheart from Croydon that isn’t ginger.

“Can I hold you? Can I try? I gotta love, before I die… Woo-oh!” (Junkie lover)

The music is very easy moving and cheerful, with songs that possess a very open sing-along quality. At times lyrics may be slightly repetitive but they evoke much audience participation. During ‘You’re Shit’ both band and spectator enjoy shouting abuse at each other.

JUNK TIME PARTY are a fun band to watch and have an exceptionally good relationship with the crowd. It would be interesting to see them in a festival type scenario because although they are good live, perhaps their confidence is strengthened by the comforts of a humble local venue.

Find out more about JUNK TIME PARTY at:
http://www.myspace.com/junktimeparty

THE 23 ENIGMA
People filter into the room like smoke for the highly anticipated arrival of tonight’s headlining act THE 23 ENIGMA. The guys have changed a lot since the days of Flight 16 (their previous band) evolving into a much more unique force. In Croydon it is not unusual to find 23 playing live at The Scream and that’s not just because it’s the closest venue to home. 23 have established a good local following and seem to be moving forward here. There are 23 t-shirts being worn around the Scream and many familiar faces, including my own, situated in our typical viewing spots. Essentially the crowd is here to see THE 23 ENIGMA and finally their up.

It begins loudly in standard agitated 23 style; heavy music that is sleepy, raw and honest. They cast a feeling of unpretentiousness and familiarity out upon the audience. Previously I believed that 23 had the characteristics of a ‘new grunge’ band and although they do resemble that stereotypical format they stand alone as an individual band with a unique sound. 23 are original but not massively different and that really works.

After a slight technical hitch, within seconds we are thrown back into a deep pool of intense emotional energy with some old 23 classics ‘Devil’s Chord’ and ‘The Chase’. Followers of 23 enjoy songs like these because they are mature tracks that we have seen grow. The band may not realise it themselves but every time they play an old song it gets better. Music fans enjoy hearing the same songs when they see a band regularly or often; it’s like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen for a while. Well known songs like ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ with it’s recognisable drum roll rhythm and a melodic flow. With a catchy beat as well as lyrics we can remember and sing back. A solid rock song complete with good storyline quality, build ups, sudden drops and a healthy use of repetition. ‘Chasing Shadows’ is another sturdy track that gets the crowd going and as does the steady rising beat of ‘Misfit Lullaby’.

Video projection is a refreshing new attribute to the show; a slideshow compiled of pictures of flyers (gigs present and future) and prominent thought out images to embellish song meaning. After a short break 23 encore to ‘Masquerade’ with the assistance from a visually captivating, fine feathered burlesque dancer. This is a tremendous asset to the set it because shows their ability to adapt and integrate new ideas into their performance. ‘Masquerade’ is a tense song with a gripping hefty bass line which always makes me think of RATM. In the song stress builds up and explodes into a furious funky chorus. The dancer reflects this as she moves accordingly like a majestic bird.

Tonight’s set consisted mainly of old songs encompassed with new ideas. This clearly gave 23 an opportunity to brighten up the visual aspects of their show. They threw in a couple of new tunes for good measure but kick out the same old vibes- its still heavy psychedelic moody rock blues! Well, whatever it is, it is a style of music that is gaining strength and appeals to people. It won’t be long before the Scream Lounge melts with tension and THE 23 ENIGMA is set free.

Find out more about THE 23 ENIGMA at:
http://www.the23enigma.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/jackdawpromos
http://www.retailersupplies.co.uk/Reason23/index.htm

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