Test Icicles

  • Oxford
  • United Kingdom
  • Oxford Zodiac
  • 2006-01-31

Any journalist knows it’s the most annoying thing in the world to get to a gig that you really don’t want to be at and find out your name isn’t ‘on the list’. Brilliant — 45 minutes stood in a queue with vulgar, sweating teens that’s only interest is to eat each others faces off and annoy the hell out of me. It’s working. But like any job you know if you don’t do it you don’t get paid. And when you have just seen front row tickets to see Morrissey on eBay know you NEED that bounty. So I flutter my eyelashes and get myself a press pass. “Excuse me madam… can I see some ID please?” ID! I’m outraged considering the age restriction of the place is 16! I swear if any sticky little child comes within a 2metre radius of me this evening the reaction is not going to be pretty.

My expertises do not lie in the musical genre of electro/hardcore/experimental or whatever those Test Icicles (yes Test Icicles — a very clever play on words) like to call it. I must say from what I have heard of them before I am not impressed in their choice of ‘old school’ high-top trainers and their indie boy cardigans. Neon pink guitars and oversized glasses really will make me nauseous this evening.

So the gig begins with Damn Arms. Who are they? I still don’t know. To me they sounded like every other low paid support band of the moment, bland and lacking any real substance. I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like in here now. It’s small, cramped and about 150c. And all the kids have thick hooded jumpers and scarves on — surely they must be hot by now.

The second act on was Help She Can’t Swim! Apart from the ridiculous name the reputation of this band interests me. They continually swap instruments around and are apparently a cross between New Yorkers, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and American hardcore scenesters The Blood Brothers. Sounds exciting I thought, and yes it certainly was. I was mesmerised. The slightly feminine front man Tom Denny was insane. He was really quite beautiful; I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He worked the audience with the help of band mate Lisa Francais. The pair worked as a team and they are incendiary. Yes I like that word — incendiary. The whole band showed they were accomplished musicians with there ability to swap instruments over and over again. I really enjoyed this guessing game they played with the audience, not knowing which of them was the bassist or which was the drummer.

They played a song from the yet to be recorded album. It was called “Idle Chatter” and it was by far the best performance of the night. Lisa Francais’ high pitched scream really knocked the socks off the Test Icicles and their drunken shambles of covers.

A small boy who answers to the name of ‘Bart Simpson’ came on with his laptop under his arm and began to ‘spin’ some tunes. He was adamant not to look at the audience. I just couldn’t believe his arrogance! After fifteen minutes of this weedy boy the audience was getting restless. They wanted the Test Icicles and they wanted them now.

Lisa Francais’ high pitched scream really knocked the socks off the Test Icicles and their drunken shambles of covers.

So the first to stumble on stage was Sam E Danger. Yes the other oh so original part to this band disposition is that that they have little pet names for each other. How sweet. Dev Metal and Raary Decihells appear and start spouting grunge jokes. I’m sorry but I don’t remember the last time grunge was funny. I thought it was the music of dirty, suicidal adolescents who screech libretto of nights spent under bridges and girls aerosols.

But I must hand it to the kids. The crowd did go crazy for them. Like Help She Can’t swim! they also showed the musical ability to rotate each others instruments. Where was the drummer? They don’t have one. That’s fine, not all bands need them but when there pre-recorded songs are blasting out of the speakers and they are just strumming along this was when I really lost all faith in them. I know its electro experimental or whatever and they clearly need electro beats on repeat but it really was lacking something. Raary Decihells showed he was the only one keeping the band together. He needs to keep those two idiots in order. He was polite and he gave it 110%. But the other two really need to sort it out. When kids pay good money to see a show they don’t want to see their idols falling off the stage and being so drunk they cannot sing. It’s not rock and roll and it’s really not cool.

They are touring America and big things are expected for this band. But if they want to be playing with the big boys I suggest they rethink there attitudes and hairstyles.

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