“I had a dream,” frontman Zsa Zsa Sapien opens up Meatraffle’s gig at The Joker with. “I had a dream about Nick Cave. I got him in a headlock, slapped his big forehead and said ‘you’ve done some bad deeds’. Excuse the pun”. Whether or not this has anything to do with Cave’s recent gig in Israel, it’s almost trademark Meatraffle: funny, surreal with a pinch of the political. This was all encapsulated at their gig at The Joker on Sunday night.
Brighton post-rockers wuuad were the first support on the night. Combining dreamy shoegaze with dark, twisted guitar lines, they’re an exciting live prospect. There’s an experimentation to their music. For example, ‘Credits Before The End’ sounds like an ambient track that would end an album, whereas ‘Cathedral’ is a jangly, post-rock anthem born to be a single. They’re an imprecise band, but they carry that with a lot of panache.
Next up were Brighton’s Strange Cages, who continue to astound me. There are a lot of Brighton bands who make impressive music that don’t quite carry themselves as bands that are going places. Strange Cages, on the other hand, not only have fantastic, filthy songs such as ‘Leader of a Cult’ and ‘The Cracks’, but they carry themselves as a proper band. There’s a fantastic chemistry between the three members, and on the microphone between songs there’s a real sense of credibility, like they were born to be there. Frontman Charlie McConnochie, who recently conducted an interview saying he likes to chat to mormons online and convince them to take LSD, has all the makings of an enigmatic, mysterious frontman with a sense of instability and danger.
Having recently announced that they’re going to mediate ‘second album syndrome’ simply by skipping to their third album, the five-piece Meatraffle arrived on the cramped stage and flew straight into their set. The best aspect to Meatraffle is that they’re so diverse that you never know what’s going to happen. New song ‘Ndrangheta Allotment’ sounds fantastic live, with its catchy, almost addictive trumpet progressing through it. While their song ‘The Horseshoe’ received the biggest reaction of the night, with the audience skanking and singing along throughout. For a so called ‘underground’ band, Meatraffle seem to have a fair few loyal fans – young and old – that support them every time they’re in town.
There’s a ramshackle nature to Meatraffle, like they’re being held together by glue that could fall apart at any time. Their keyboard is held on two wobbly chairs, moving every time it’s played and they constantly switch instruments, showcasing their immense talent for music. It coincides with their music though: a little bit shabby, a tad dilapidated and a whole load of fun to watch. Zsa Zsa Sapien’s rough and ready trumpet, too, certainly gives them another dimension, constantly rejuvenating their choruses.
Meatraffle are a provocative blend and a genuine portrayal of the crisp sounds accessible to those who want to be different. They achieve a unique style of music that seizes from a variety of influences and genres, mixing them together to create a very exciting art that is amusing, lively and anarchic. Meatraffle are essentially the Happy Mondays if they had an ounce of talent, or an abundantly more charming Sleaford Mods.