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.