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Psycho Motel @ Heebie Jeebies review

by Peter Charles. Published Tue 09 Nov 2010 11:56

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In an effort to make Halloween 2010 the most economical in recent years, a bunch of freakish characters Doc Horror, Betty Boneshaker and Curious Kitty McOrange have clubbed together to give us one last chance to don those hideously overpriced Smiffy’s zombie costumes and try to make a barmaid laugh with that “two-pints-of-brains-sorry-I-mean-Cains-please” gag.

Inspired by the Hitchcock film and other things ghastly and ghoulish, Psycho Motel is the new monthly club night which is to regularly feature local horror-punk legends Zombina and the Skeletones.

The Heebie Jeebies basement is decked out in anything and everything that could possibly give you the willies: skulls, pumpkins, coffins, skeletons, cobwebs, even a blood-stained shower curtain; the attention to detail is as impeccable as it is disturbing to the extent that the £5 cover charge (which includes a goodie bag) is starting to look decidedly generous.

A good effort has also been made on the fancy dress front by those in attendance. Within two minutes, we’ve stumbled upon a mutilated nurse, an air hostess (complete with cumbersome flight case), a clown and girl who has just begun to understand the impracticalities of having come as a Rubik’s cube.

The six members of High School Massacre cram themselves onto the makeshift stage and launch into ‘It’s Real’, which is like a Devo song, only brutally mangled with distortion.

It’s undoubtedly a strong opener and there’s already considerably movement on the dancefloor. Singer Luke thrusts his pigeon chest out and makes the stage his own, but the vocals are disappointingly quiet and mostly unintelligible. Crucially though, HSM are hard, fast and over far too quickly, ticking all the boxes on the punk rock checklist.

There is a brief interlude as fiendish DJ Jimmy O gives the Motel guests a chance brush away the cobwebs (oof!), spinning a melange of surf, garage and 60s pop tunes.

Harriet Hyde extends her arms to reveal a cape which envelopes her tiny frame and introduces her band Black Moth.

Hailing from Leeds, Black Moth spawned from the remnants of The Bacchae. They’ve ditched the Hammond organ from their live line-up and reformed into a heavier, driving dark rock machine.

Gothic rock was made cool again (or at least accessible to the mainstream, depending on your take on it) by bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence, producing a wake of copycats and imitators, most of whom proved to be laughable attempts at retaining the genre’s credibility.

Black Moth, by contrast, are a law unto themselves. They fuse dark strains of punk, Sabbath-esque lead guitar and hooks so sharp, you could hang a corpse on them. They are intensely watchable, impassioned and boast songs with massive amounts of infectious energy. Their single The Articulate Dead, bolstered by worthy B-side Blind Faith is out now. There just aren’t enough superlatives. It’s an emphatic debut.

If you don’t know about Zombina and the Skeletones by now, you need to get out more. Tonight Doc Horror, Zombina and co. wheel out a blood-soaked back catalogue of horror-punk classics.

Much of the set is high-tempo and chock full of blood, brains and B-movie references (but sadly let down by a PA which, at times, makes Zombina’s vocals sound like they’re being sung through a megaphone), but as always, ZATS show their style and versatility with interesting forays into other genres, such as the sassy cabaret swing of Vincent Price, the quirky garage-pop of Teenage Caveman Beat Gargantua or ska-infused toe-tapper Springheeled Jack.

A vast and varied range of influences, as well as an almost telepathic onstage chemistry is undoubtedly what has seen this band through the last ten years or so. For many of their hardcore fan base, they can do no wrong.

The band charge through an hour of material, returning for a blistering (and no less appropriate) encore I Go Psycho! which sees some of the Psycho Motel decorations inadvertently destroyed by a rogue crowdsurfer.

Despite a few niggles (sound trouble, lack of stage) the night is a roaring success. Expect Psycho Motel to return soon, with a possible change of venue. By the end of the night the floor is littered with all manner of scary paraphernalia. We don’t envy them the clean-up job.


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