The Callas are back, Twice in as many months we see the Athenian Art rockers return to their home stage in further support of their new record Trouble and Desire. Sadly collaborator, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo is not with them but he is barely missed as the band crash through a strong set featuring old and new favourites.
The venue, six D.O.G.S, with its dark and moody interior is in stark contrast to their last gig which was at the bright and kitschy Xorostasio Bar. However this had no affect on the resulting show as the packed crowd was treated to an energetic, fuzz filled gig which enthralled those present.
Opening with Mirror, the band seemed uncharacteristically subdued and low key but the gig was kicked up a notch with the ferocious ‘Acid Books’ and the band were then in full stride.
Brothers Aris and Lakis Ionas on guitar and bass respectively, drummer Chrysanthi Tsoukala, Marilena Petridou on percussion and Chris Bekiris on guitar made a hell of a noise. Their trademark tribal beats, the fuzzy guitars and vocals switching from loud and punk to soft and sultry were all present and filled the venue. The songs raced by, ‘East beat’, ‘lipstick’, ‘Melania’, ‘La Jalousie’, the Velvet Underground stylings of ‘Γλυκιά Μου Όμορφη’, the sharp and punky ‘am i vertical?’
With Aris Ionas’ punky riffs being complimented by Bekiris’ fills and noise. The band seemed to get better the longer the gig went on and the crowd responded in kind. By the time guitars were being leaned against amps and feedback was filling the air for the encores, there was a mosh pit at the front and dancing at the sides.
All in all, this was yet another triumph. The crowd sang, they danced, they cheered. Beers were thrown, pedals were kicked and songs were sung. Love this band.
Cult of The Amps, Volume 1 took place at Gagarin 205 in Athens on a cold and wet Athenian night. Not to be deterred, the crowd arrived to celebrate noisy post metal outfit Allochiria celebrating 5 years of their album ‘Omonoia’, post rock band Afformance, metal band Amniac, and 3 piece instrumental rock band Caldera. A successful night of noisy, sludgy, visual music. Roll on Volume 2.
The first thing you notice when Mogwai hit the stage is how fucking enormous the stage at the Piraeus Academy is and how small Mogwai look when placed up on it. Everything has been pushed right back leaving a chasm of space at the front, filled with various pedal boards that band members, multi instrumentalist Barry Burns, guitarist Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison on bass, and the recently returned from illness Martin Bulloch on drums, occasionally stepped forward to play. And this is when it hits you, despite being placed very firmly into the effects laden post rock genre, live they are miles away from bands such as the gadget ridden ‘God Is An Astronaut’, or the visually dominant Sigur Ros. No big screens here, no massive light show (although what they had worked wonderfully well), just 5 Scotsmen under a moody light playing a fucking awesome show.
Opening with the beautiful, ‘I Heard About You last Night’ from the fantastic ‘Rave Tapes’ album, the band were nestled tightly at the back, hunched over pianos. The glorious melody washing over the empty, deep blue stage. Every Country’s Sun’s ‘Crossing The Road Material’ and ‘We are not done’ from Kin, brought the band members to the front, with the latter seeing Stuart Braithwaite step up to the mic for the first time in the evening. Every Country’s Sun is, as expected, heavily featured here with ‘Coolverine’, ‘Don’t Believe The Fife’, ‘Old Poisons’ and the title track being added to the Before mentioned, ‘Crossing The Road’ Don’t let this fool you though, the set list ranged from the very beginning with ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ from 1997’s Young Team and spanned their entire career. I’m not sure that Mogwai could ever be called a greatest hits band but ‘Hunted By A Freak with that glorious anthemic vocoder, and ‘I’m Jim Morrison’ with the piano introduction that belongs in a cathedral, are certainly fan favourites and they received the appropriate response.
It seems that Mogwai are a band currently at the top of their game as they move from guitars to synths and back again, giving each band member a chance to shine. It all seemed so effortless as they swoop from the quiets and build into the raging torrents of noise. These dynamics, that it should be noted, were dealt with remarkably well from the venues acoustics, allowing the silence to breathe and the noise to crush. Epic is frequently a word banded about at these gigs but it is done so for a reason, epic it was.
Earlier on, Greek band Afformance had showcased their brand of Post Rock in style. Cut down to a four piece from their regular six on this particular night they continue to excel and their sound filled this cavernous room quite beautifully. Taken from albums such as ‘Music for Imaginary Film #1’ and ‘Pop Nihilism’, the set list stood up well to what was to follow.
The Callas are not your ordinary band. Consisting of the brothers Aris and Lakis Ionas, on guitar and bass respectively, Chrysanthi Tsoukala on drums, Marilena Petridou on percussion and Chris Bekiris on guitar. they are more of an art collective whose music output is only part of a larger body of work that encompasses mediums such as art, film and magazines to name a few. As a result they attract a different type of crowd and play different type of gigs to your regular musical tastemakers.
Tonight’s gig sees the band crammed onto a tiny stage in front of a fabulously kitsch curtain. Taking place in the rather lovely Xorostasio bar in an aptly bohemian part of Athens, the gig was to celebrate the release of their new album, ‘Trouble and Desire’, a collaberation with Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo no less. Indeed, the last time I saw this band they were opening for the aforementioned band’s Thurston Moore at the much more standard Fuzz Club so you can begin to see what kind of scene they have created.
In true Greek style they took the stage over an hour later than originally advertised and proceeded to bang out their fuzzy, loud jagged post punk tunes in front of a very receptive and tightly packed audience. The stage is dominated by the two brothers, Lakis on bass, moodily peering from under his flat Peaky Blinders cap (let the records show he was wearing this long before that dreadful monstrosity began) and singer and guitarist Aris Ioanas. However the real star of this live set up is the furious force of nature that sits behind the drums, named Chrysanthi Tsoukala. A huge sound emitting from this highly animated drummer as she combined singing, both leads and melodies, while thrashing out tribal beats. Pure entertainment. Abley backed up by Marilena Petridou on percussion and vocals and once you add in guitarist Chris Bekiris, quietly being stage left, and quite a noise and image is made by this 5 piece.
The set list, as you would expect, leaned heavily on the new record with opener Mirroir starting proceedings with Chrysanthi taking the main French spoken vocals with a heavy Velvet Underground feel. The gloriously fuzzy pop of Trouble and Desire showcased the band’s Beatlesque pendant for trading vocal lines and the shouty Acid Books kept the gig speeding along. The Callas seem to specialise in ‘chanty’ songs as the older ‘Lipstick’, proves.
‘Its Sunday Im Bleeding,’ from their album ‘Half Kiss Half Pain’ returns to their Velvet Underground leanings with a Nico style vocal and Sonic Youth guitars. I look behind me into the crowd and they are all loving it, and why not, its all rather glorious.
Other older songs such as ‘East Beast’ and ‘Am I vertical?’ follow and new track ‘Melania’ closes the gig prompting me to wander off to try and find a copy of the new record to buy. I couldn’t, a record promotional gig with no record. OK. Still, what a fucking gig.