Sunday, 8 May 2016

Live Review: drumcorps @ Gagarin, Tel Aviv [28th April 2016]

Although this blog is called PUNKalovich and I tend to cover punk and hardcore, I have been known to go to and review certain shows out of curiosity. This is one of those occasions where I only discovered the act via the gig poster and decided to give them a listen on the chance I might like it. And guess what! I only bloody did!

 Tonight, I find myself at Gagarin to see drum n bass/digital hardcore artist drumcorps. When I get there, a fair bit later than the posted starting time (which itself was midnight, anyway), dnb DJ, Hostage, is on stage. I'm not going to officially review his set tonight because..well..I don't really know what to write in terms of a proper review for a drum n bass DJ. What I will say is that it was mostly quite slow for drum n bass. It was more like thumping techno. Either way, it was a good warm up but I didn't hear anything that really made my feet move.

 After Hostage, drumcorps takes the stage as the night's main attraction. I hadn't heard of him before but I checked out some tracks and it's practically the sort of mix of heavy guitars and manic beats that I always thought about having a go at. As good as it already is on record, drumcorps live performance is an amazing experience. As well as playing prerecorded tracks off of Ableton on his laptop, drumcorps aka Aaron Spectre (originally from Boston but currently residing in Geneva, Switzerland) also plays some live guitar through a massive Orange amp and uses a form of drum pads/sampler for live effects and added fills. Even when simply playing a prerecorded track, Aaron is totally hyped and making sure the crowd is having a good time.

  What drumcorps does is not simply electronic music. The set opener, My Heart Flies To Where You Are, doesn't even really come under the banner of drum n bass, jungle or digital hardcore at all. It doesn't even really fall under punk. It's a pretty slow tempo, heavy and almost sludgy jam with an enticing melody that builds throughout. The drum n bass fans seem to not really know what they've come along to at this point, but those more into hardcore and metal are headbanging away. I'm even smiling immediately as I'm surprised by how heavy and groovy it is. We hear drumcorps' slower side again later with the short dark interlude We Turned At A Dozen Paces, For Love Is A Duel, but the majority of the set is hectic. 

  The setlist is mainly comprised of tracks from his 2008 album Grist and his latest album Falling Forward. Those who are already fans go crazy for likes of Grist classics like Botch Up and Die (which samples To Our Friends In The Great White North by Botch), the anthemic Down (which samples Cave In's Terminal Diety) and the album's title track, which ends the night back on a slower and more headbanging note. Newer tracks like Got The Row, Crosses and Tap Tap Tap are chaotic electronic numbers with frenzied beats and distorted guitars that get some people running around, whereas more hardcore tracks like Built For War and The Path actually result in some air punching action here and there. He also played a couple of remixes, including his remix for Relief by the band Genghis Tron and an unreleased remix of hardcore band Code Orange's I Am King, the latter of which came off sounding even heavier and more crazy than the original. 

  After the main event, local underground DJ crew, Sensi Sound System, take the stage. Again, I'm not really going to give this much of a review. Not just because I'm not really sure what to say about a DJ set but I really only stayed and listened to Shy FX's Original Nuttah and then went home. By the time I walked all the way home, it was about 5AM. I ended up sleeping until 6:45PM the next day! So lucky I had nothing else to do. 

Aaron Spectre/drumcorps is something I am kicking myself for not discovering sooner but so glad I paid attention to the posts and dragged myself along to this at stupid-o'clock at night. I have a soft spot for drum n bass, as well as a big love for digital hardcore acts like Mad Capsule Markets and Atari Teenage Riot and hardcore punk in general. drumcorps takes all this to the extreme and presents it with joy and energy. With only a few bits of equipment, he manages to make a hell of a noise; a powerfully invigorating, crushing and heavy noise. I'm not a fan of the noise genre, per se, but when it's rapid drum beats, heavy guitar riffs and shouty vocals, I am very much on board. The sampling from hardcore and metal bands and the fact that some of the drumcorps original tracks include drumming from Madball's Mike Justian and Iggor Cavalera just make this act all the more interesting and special in my eyes.

A shout out to Bass Fanatics and Frog-Hop Crew for their hard work of bringing him over and setting up the show.

Photos courtesy of Raz Mor

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