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 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.
The Gathering are in town, heading south from their Northern Orange base for the first time in, well, a long time, and for the concert goers of Athens this poses a quite literal large problem. An international band invariably brings a number of fellow countrymen along in the form of crew, family and well, i guess, fans, but coming from Holland, tonight sees the general size of the audience grow half a foot. The perils of supporting a band from the tallest Nation in the world i guess. Nevermind, the concert, criminally undersold, was made up in vertical size and impeccable English. Still, for those who stayed away it was their loss as, for those peering around their Northern Brethren, the band delivered a beautiful dreamlike mix of new and fan favorites.
Opening with the moody ‘Black Light District’ with singer Silje Wergeland playing the opening stark piano melody silhouetted against a sole back light, set the evening for an atmospheric evening of gorgeous melodies and textures. The rest of the band joined her to kick the song in before ‘Paralyzed’ followed with its slow marching drum beat. Next saw ‘Meltdown’ arriving and the distortion pedals were kicked in and the gig took off. Led by guitarist and co founder Rene Rutten (along with drummer Hans Rutten), the band led the audience through their ethereal sound of dreamy layered backings of strings and arpeggiated guitars that allowed singer Silje Wergeland’s vocals to soar and cascade.
A minimal light set up and no backing screens meant the music was the sole focus and songs like ‘Maroon’, ‘Paper Leaves’ and ‘Saturnine’ were beautifully performed and warmly received by a dedicated following. By the time they closed with the building ‘Heroes for Ghosts’ the band had the crowd exactly where they wanted.
Returning for a brutal ‘Nighttime Birds’ from 1997 that bordered on industrial and even featured a crowd sing along they then closed the set with an incredible ‘I can see four Miles’. A fitting end with an extended instrumental outro featuring a fabulous guitar solo using a theremin that raised the noise threshold considerably, the way every gig should end. And with that, they were gone, amongst the thank yous there were plenty of smiles and thumbs up that showed the band were enjoying it just as much as the audience. Hup Hup! Welcome back.
Earlier in the evening local band Fragile Vastness had entertained us with a high tempo and uplifting brand of rock. Lead singer Elena Stratigopoulou showcasing her impressive vocal talents with a powerful performance of songs such as ‘Face in the mirror’, ‘Wall of Glass’ and ‘From East to West’, backed by a very tight band.