Sly & The Family Drone - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Sly & The Family Drone - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:
Sly & The Family Drone - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley
Sly & The Family Drone - The Golden Cabinet, Shipley

Nothing puts you in the festive spirit (too early?) quite like torrential rain and train strikes. Tonight is the very last Golden Cabinet of the year and nothing short of Cthulhu, rising from his subterranean Lovecraftian lair and laying waste to West Yorkshire, is going to stop me from going. Earplugs, raincoat and monster slaying kit all packed and ready.

Over the last 5 years, the Golden Cabinet has spoilt us rotten with a succession of mind-melting line-ups. The likes of Teeth of the Sea, Young Echo, and Gnod R&D have all shook the floor of Shipley’s unassuming Kirkgate Centre. Go with an open mind and you’ll be greeted with an intimate and friendly atmosphere, floor shaking volume and a list of new, experimental acts to really get your teeth into.

As I approach the venue I can already hear resident, in-house DJ Cataclyst putting the foundations of the Kirkgate Centre to the test. That all too familiar buzz emanating from the venues impressive sound-system and doing its best to rattle the walls. Every Golden Cabinet night feels like a proper event. A place where you’re submerged in the atmosphere from the second you walk through the door.

Leeds-based, unforgivingly abrasive, noise duo Soft Issues get us started. With a table of pedals and electronic kit at their disposal, the duo hit us with a tsunami of scrambled noise, drone and distinctly industrial flavoured beats. Those with a heart condition might want to steer clear.

The predominantly unintelligible vocals come to us in a series of animalistic growls and wails. The vocals don’t always work for me but there’s no denying the sheer, sweaty effort put into every anguished howl.

There’s a point near the end when things almost settle into something vaguely comfortable (by extreme noise standards that is) before the volume is suddenly wacked all the way up to 11. In keeping with that longstanding Golden Cabinet tradition, the floor shakes in approval.

You can always rely on the Cabinet to put on an eclectic show and it’s with that ethos in mind that the gears shift for tonight’s next act, Thomas Ragsdale. Usually found making experimental electronica with Worriedaboutsatan and providing soundtrack material for documentary maker Adam Curtis; Ragsdale serves up a set of dancefloor troubling, atmospheric techno.

I find myself getting more involved as his set goes on; gradually moving from atmospheric sci-fi electronica to full-on, party starting banger. The peak coming towards the end as everything explodes into dark, intense drum and bass. Ragsdale rocking back-and-forth throughout the performance, lost in a kind of self-hypnosis.

The gears shift once again with the arrival of Nottingham’s Bloody Head. The band specialise in heavy-as-hell noise rock that combines doom-laden, riff annihilation with fevered, punk-rock spirit. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band like this and it feels pretty sweet.

Watching them I realise I can’t see where the singer is. Then I spot him in the midst of the crowd, top off and t-shirt wrapped around his head. The riffs come thick and fast. Much head-nodding ensues. “Encore!” shouts someone in the crowd. I couldn’t agree more.

Our boots are temporarily chilled with the arrival of Hirvikolari. Mike Bourne and Sam Barton from the mighty Teeth of the Sea are joined by Chloe Herrington of Chrome Hoof for a set of deliciously psychedelic ambient experimentalism. The sound of chimes and Herrington’s wordless harmonies calmly depressurising the whole room.

Barton and Herrington add hypnotic trumpet and clarinet motifs over Bourne’s increasingly pulsating electronic groundwork; the whole performance proving to be utterly immersive. Suitably psychedelic visuals play behind the trio as the performance gradually moves into wilder, free-jazz inspired territory. Quite beautiful.

The audience form a circle around the drumkit in the middle of the room; it’s time to get nice and cosy for Sly & the Family Drone. Beyond the rather brilliant name, I didn’t know all that much about tonight’s final act. Did they specialise in drone covers of Sly and the Family Stone? And is such a thing even humanly possible?

Thoughts of funk inspired drone are soon lost when the set begins. The drums lead the charge, one full kit and a separate floor tom and cymbal for good measure. A saxophonist that flits between space-jazz, discordant noise and full-on fog horn. The vocalist’s screams buried in the mix. A cacophony of drums, saxophone, a whole bunch of pedals and electronic gadgetry and a thirst for wild, improvised noise.

They ask us to come even closer and we do. Things are always nice and intimate at The Golden Cabinet. The cymbal right in front of me is pock-marked and battered, a sizeable tear around the edges. An empty can of pop is briefly used as a drum stick as the wall of frazzled, chest-beating, ritualistic noise builds-and-builds. Primal, cathartic and unrelenting.

It’s not the first time it’s crossed my mind but nights at The Golden Cabinet often have me imagining I’ve run away and joined some kind of cult. The acts and general atmosphere creating a fully immersive and unique experience every single time. It might be the last Golden Cabinet of 2018 but I’m definitely a Cabinet devotee for life.

Photo of Sly & the Family Drone by Thirsty & Miserable.

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