Black Midi – Green Door Store, Brighton – 24th January 2019

Black Midi – Green Door Store, Brighton – 24th January 2019
Photo by Iain Lauder

The archway under Brighton station known as the Green Door Store is crammed and packed out to the brim – meaning you can hardly move. The crowd is a mixture of fine art students and obsessive music fans alike.

Yet to release a record to the world, Black Midi have infamously established themselves without putting any music online, and with a select online presence, skewed with minimalism and animosity. Recently snapped up by Rough Trade Records after months of being the most hotly tipped and hyped guitar band in the country, Black Midi are on their first UK tour.

There are not be many acts, let alone guitar bands, that could sell out the Green Door Store in a matter of days, even more impressively without being on Spotify. Black Midi have earned a mystical status for their live performances, mostly located at Brixton’s The Windmill. The group intermingle an extremely complex blend of hardcore punk, jazz, art rock, noise pop, math-rock and everything in-between.

Black Midi emerge onto the stage: ring walking to the soundtrack of the surreally chosen La Roux’s 2008 hit ‘In For The Kill’. Black Midi’s stage presence is unassuming, almost orchestrated as purposefully awkward, as the four boys stare down to the ground, avoiding eye contact with the audience.

Twinkly math-rock guitars turn into shards of feedback, as gargling low-end basslines are locked in with slap-stick drumming – the singer somehow ties this all together with semi-screeched vocals and what I can only assume is vocal parody. Enticingly unique, the lead singer violently transcends from nasal consonant tenor to demonic laughter and whimpers.

One of the many untitled tracks performed on the night, sees Black Midi’s bassist take on the vocals, alternating between spoken word beat-poetry delivery and raw shouting; evocative of Refused. The yet-to-be-announced track from their NTS session at Flesh & Bone Studios is reminiscent of the heydays of the late-00s math-rock underworld heroes such as Tubelord, This Town Needs Guns and Colour – but much darker and with a singular approach.

Support on the night came from the equally bizarre-but-enjoyable Jerskin Fendrix. The solo producer/singer’s live delivery was bonkers, an almost karaoke-style stage presence, the backing track being industrially-influenced, hard-hitting electronic beats tinged with contemporary pop.

In a pretentious set closer, Black Midi play ‘Bmbmbmb’, a raw and explosive track recorded within one day as part of Dan Carey’s Speedy Wunderground project. Before walking off the stage intensely without a word uttered to the crowd.

Everyone at that gig walked away saying the same thing, “What the fuck did I just watch? That was amazing.” Black Midi have somehow nailed the careful art of being viewed as outsider experiment; and not just four noiseniks making jarring math-prog-punk.

Rhys Baker