Part Chimp - Wharf Chambers, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

Easter is traditionally a time for chocolate eggs, rabbits and the steadily improving weather. It’s also, apparently, time for excessively loud gigs. Having barely recovered from the wonderful sonic battering that The Bug Vs Earth gave my ears the previous night I make my way down to Wharf Chambers to see London’s Part Chimp.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen everyone’s favourite noise-rock primates play but I still recall the sweat, excitement and ringing in my ears of our last encounter sometime around 2007 (at a guess). The band has built up a well-deserved reputation for playing particularly loud shows and, of course, for producing some of the finest noise-rock around.

The night begins with a set from Leeds locals, Thick Syrup. The five-piece lead us through a giddily noisy set of post-punk thrills ‘n’ spills. There’s a distinctly funky feel to everything they do with the bass, drums and keyboard continually locking into tight, danceable grooves. If it wasn’t so early in the night it would almost certainly be time to throw some shapes on the dance floor.

Lead vocalist Gemma Fleet spends the set singing amongst the crowd, with occasional trips back to the stage for a quick caffeine fix. Like fellow Leeds types Cowtown, it’s almost impossible not to smile when you’re watching Thick Syrup. A brilliantly fun and persuasively energetic set from a band you’re bound to hear more about soon.  

2015’s Colossal Downer was easily one of my favourite albums of that year and Nottingham’s Grey Hairs has been on my ‘must see’ list ever since. The band produce the kind of filthy post-grunge (is that a thing?) that Sub Pop used to specialise in. From the opening dirgy repetition of ‘Sausage’ the band refuses to take their foot off the accelerator.

Neck (Chris, the guitarist) harnesses a style that’s one-part hardcore and one-part rock ‘n’ roll as he unleashes an endless stream of punkified riffs. Vocalist The Cup (also known as James) is an admirably sweaty mess, eyes bulging and veins throbbing as he shouts and screams his way through material from their latest album, Serious Business.

It’s a relentless, sweaty and cathartic performance that culminates in some first-class throat shredding/ Lydia Lunch style vocals from bassist Mum (that’s Amy). They look like they’re having a great time and that enthusiasm is mightily infectious. Along with Pissed Jeans, Grey Hairs is just about the best punk rock band you could hope to see.

Both Thick Syrup and Grey Hairs are indisputably loud bands yet there’s a significant increase in volume come the arrival of Part Chimp. With their new record, the snappily titled Iv, ready to launch Part Chimp lunge head-first into a set of brand new material. That gloriously simple combination of riffs and volume is still very much intact. The likes of ‘Bouncers Dream’ recall the sludge-rock stylings of the Melvins, a deliberately slow and brutal crawl through molasses.

As always the band has pushed the distortion all the way up to eleven, the riffs as loud and belligerent as we’ve come to expect. There’s very little in the way of a quiet/loud dynamic, instead the band prefers to keep things constantly in the red. Just like on the bands recordings, Tim Cedars vocals are buried low in the mix yet while unintelligible they remain nonetheless integral to the bands overall sound and aesthetic. Cedar shouting for all he’s worth in the midst of a hurricane. This is soul cleansing stuff people, a pure sonic exorcism.  

Volume alone is obviously never enough but Part Chimp manage to keep a steady stream of skull-crushing riffs emanating from the stage. Chief amongst them being the wonderfully propulsive ‘Trad’ from 2009’s Thriller. A classic riff if ever I’ve heard one, it bounces around my head hours after the final note has squealed from the amplifiers. Stripping rock down to its bare bones, Part Chimp continues to revel in the simple, unrefined pleasures of turning their amps all the way up and rocking the fuck out. Sometimes there’s nothing better in the world.

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