Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Chap @ The Lexington

The Chap are a really funny band. They’re like something out of a good comic - they’re like wry, nerdy superheroes. What they are not is a comedy band, and to dismiss them thusly would be to completely overlook their worth.

Their intentions are clear from the outset. They make an awful lot of jagged, cheerful noise, and periodically STOP! And freeze pose. And resume movement, and repeat. They dress like former CBBC characters who never gave up the dream; the night’s winning look is a hard-fought battle between hairy guitarist Panos Ghikas’ neat running shorts and drummer Keith Duncan’s fabulous Wurzels-esque facial topiary, accessorised with a beaming grin. They pursue the surreal, am-dram stage attitude with zeal, but back it up fearlessly with an arsenal of infectious, upside-down pop.

Comparisons with Devo will be made, and while they perhaps share a soul and a mutual sense of determined oddity, The Chap’s output is more erratic and frenzied than Devo’s streamlined weirdness. Shredded bows hack at cellos, staccato riffs jerk back and forth and singer Johannes von Weizs√§cker (what a name!) lurches goggle-eyed about the stage, losing a fight with his guitar, and announcing before every song, ‘You’re gonna love it!’. The drummer demonstrates a delighted fascination with a plastic bottle, analysing it from all sides like Kubrick’s gorillas in A Space Odyssey, before returning efficiently to the task at hand.

Despite the studied eccentricity, there’s a keen, taut sense of purpose, never more evident than during a fervent, Patrick Henry-paraphrasing chant of “Give me surrender or give me death / Give me my life back or give me death”; their ‘us vs everyone else’ attitude recalls the Fall at their most defiant. Their antics perfectly punctuate their songs, marching poses and freeze-frame shapes emphasising the frenetic rhythm and imaginative structure rather than distracting from it. Ask anyone in the front row what they think of The Chap, and... well, you may have to wait. They’re too busy flailing about and out-frenzying their heroes.

People say there’s a delicate line between finely tuned, quirky genius and ill-advised wackiness. It’s actually a really thick line, and The Chap know exactly which side they’re on. Only those with the emotional limitations of a potato could fail to be filled with grinning pleasure by The Chap. They inspire absolute devotion from a flailing, joyous crowd, and deservedly so.


Photos: Teeth of the Sea @ The Lexington, 14th March 2012

Since I got my beloved secondhand Canon EOS 350D I've mainly used it for city photography. But I really miss doing live music photography so I'm going to see what sort of results I can get with it over the next few weeks. Aside from an odd bug with shooting at a very open aperture sometimes (which I'm going to investigate and try & find a solution for), it's a lovely and intuitive camera to use so I hope I'll get some decent results soon. I suffer from a lack of flashgun and limited lenses, but money is what it is, so that won't change for a while (and I don't like using much flash anyway); I shall work with what I've got. I hate the 'all the gear and no idea' approach to photography anyway; what counts is a decent eye, understanding your environment & subject, and knowing what your camera can do.

Here's some photos of Teeth of the Sea, who are always fun to photograph. Not great pictures, but this was something of a test run with this camera, so time will bring improvement.