Squadcar 96; Shagpile; Beige, Grosvenor Front Room, June 29, 1996

sorry it’s late, the vaccuum cleaner ate my parrot.

When the faithful all congregate to hear the mighty words, sounds and thudding drumbeats of the mob, there is little one can do to escape its fearful spell.

And this was the scene at the Grosvenor on Saturday eve, when the true tribes of guitar-loving slackery once again came together to bawl and critique some newfound witch doctors of electric amplification. There is nothing better than a room full of like-minded, local music zealots!

That is, apart from a room partially muscled-in by left-overs from the Dockers match down the road.

Snuggled within the prerequisite entry fashion of lamb’s wool and brown leather jackets, Beige launched into a set of hybrid UK drumming, the subtle underlay of one guitar fleshed out with delay so it sounds like five, rolling bass rhythms and a Carter-esque vocalist, shy-enough-looking to motivate the crowd to clap loudly just to keep him there.

With songs purely driven by the rhythm section, whose simple cycles could eventually send a dancing crowd into a bouncing fervour, Beige were still at that stage where their soon-to-be-gathered experience should eventually pull them out of the mid-paced learning curve and into a really fine groove.

Slipping from jackets to primary-coloured skivvies and beanies, Shagpile lived up to their infamy of being ‘a friends band’ to actually playing like ‘a friends band’ – long tuning sessions, an aversion to singing, being beaten-up at the end of the night by the other bands for playing too long …

They actually looked as if they were scared of being electrocuted by their screaming devices, even if this danger was very real considering the guitar cords were probably spliced from 1950’s toaster ovens. Sadly, recognisable melody in the final two songs could do little to save Shagpile at such a late stage.

Squadcar 96’s floating line-up added a new beau to its bow, in Dave from Wooden Fische on bass, and glory of glories ’twas like Morning Of The Earth meets Polvo.

Christine on bass clarinet and Pugsley Buzzard Watering Can (nee – Gavin from Jelly) on flute added the Jonathon Livingston Seagull aspects, with Andrew Souza and most of the ex-Lost line-up thrashing and scuffing-up the edges. And all the way through, Dave O’Halloran kept the tangents together in his solid bass foundation. Maybe this is Squadcar’s year.

Are we to see Squadcar finally shake their part-timer’s tag? Will Shagpile die when one of them attempts to strum a blender? And are Beige an unstoppable sex machine? Tune in next gig.

Adam Connors