O Children and The Voyeurist were playing at Oporto on Wednesday night and we thought we’d pay them a visit. Mid-week gigs is always a weird one, you just don’t know what the turn out is going to be like on a school night. And that night felt slightly “off” too – there was a kind of tension in the air, and even as I walked to Friends of Ham for some pre-show drinks, I felt the tightness in the air choke me.
A few drinks and a platter of divine cured meat and cheese later, I was sorted and ready to rumble. We rolled into Oporto quite the hip joint on Call Lane, and were just in time to catch White Heat. Now, the description about this band on the FB event page was: “Sweet music played loud and unavoidable. A very exciting new prospect from a few familiar faces, with slick transitions and refined riffs, they devour their prey.” I’m sorry but it was no such thing. I don’t usually write bad reviews because I appreciate the hardwork and effort it takes for bands to get to a certain point but watching White Heat made me want to top myself. The lead singer looked so bored to be on stage that I felt fucking embarrassed to even waste my time in front of them. She didn’t want to be there, stood so still and rigid, it was as though she was being punished to stand in front of everyone and sing. And the guitars, all those awesome effect pedals yet the only effect it had on us was absolute ball breaking, torturous, repetitive, agonizing crap. It was whiny, and whingy and god-awful. Their last song was almost 6 minutes long with the singer simply going “la la la la…” Half the room cleared off before they could even finish their set. I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for the band or angry for the people who paid good money to see them.
The Voyeurist came on next. A two piece band, dressed all in black, I didn’t know what to expect, and this would be my first ever encounter with the band. Already miffed because the opening band Indecisive Crisis took longer than what was allocated to finish their set, The Voyeurist had to cut their set short. The tension I felt earlier on the night returned, but it was a different sort of tension, it wasn’t stress, but something similar to anger, as though – something was about to explode, right there and then.
This band was that explosion.
They started with an uptempo dark electro number to rid the room of the monstrous bland after-taste left by the previous band and the crowd responded.
Richard nearly stabbing me with his guitar as my camera neared him.
[The Voyeurist - Chase(R)]
[The Voyeurist - Extended Cut]
By the second song, the guitar strings broke, Sarah threw the microphone stand into the crowd in frustration/anger and they soldiered on, with each second the band grew more and more intense. “Come closer to the stage”, Sarah called to the audience, “I’m not going to hurt you…. – yet.”
As people edged closer to these 2 volatile beings, they launched into another moody number, but the guitar’s not playing ball, so they decided to thrash the song. Richard swung his instrument into the monitor, Sarah left the stage, and told the soundguy to cut it.
We thought they were absolutely fantastic. Such energy! Such presence!
Headliners O Children came on last, all bright and cheerful in paisley and color, much to the disappointment of a certain group of black-clad posse on the side of the room with their Joy Division t-shirts. If I’m honest, I’m not too keen on Apnea, it’s too upbeat, buoyant, compared to the dark gothy themes in their previous self-titled release which I found to be more sophisticated. It makes me wonder if O Children are following the same formula set out by The Horrors – Strange House to Primary Colours was a seismic, unexpected shift in direction but one that was welcomed nonetheless, because the former was considered “fashion” whereas the latter was the “substance”. Sure, bands must grow and evolve and cannot be expected to churn out same sounding material all the time but Apnea doesn’t quite quite cut it for me – or am I suffering from 1st-album syndrome (where a band’s 1st album is always the best release?).
[O Children - PT Cruiser]
[O Children - Yours For You]
Nonetheless, the O Children were brilliant on stage, and played most of their new material. They were noticeably exhausted, the tour finally taking a toll on them but they were in high spirits and got the crowd dancing. Tobias’ baritone voice reverberated through the room during Ruins and in less than 35minutes, their set was over.
After the gig, we hung out with The Voyeurist, and I played the temporary bodyguard for a bit, fending off drunk assholes. “Take us somewhere awesome!” Sarah said and we brought them to a coupla places that were unfortunately shut by 12am because it’s a school night. Bumped into a homeless dude with crutches and on a skateboard, who tried to come with us LOL. We managed to find a dive-y bar, I got followed by this other dude who kept saying I’ve got “Gangnam style“. We all danced to Whitney Houston and Total Eclipse of The Heart. It was funny. Closing time came, I went outside for a smoke and had to leave the party early at about 1am because I was getting hassle. But it was ok in the end, all in all, an adventure of a night.