New Cambridge band The Resistance aren't a talkative bunch: they don't even have a singer. But then, who needs one when you can have feedback: a piercing wail of tortured electricity scouring its way through the sound in a manner which human ears aren't meant to enjoy as much as mine do. Throughout their set the three black-clad band members stand onstage in intense, wordless concentration, breaking only to fiddle with one of the vast array of effects pedals before them. Using two guitars(one for feedback, one for noise) and a laptop serving as both drum machine and general noise maker, The Resistance make the kind of guitar-based dance music which should by rights have been played to a darkened, heaving club dancefloor. It sounds a little like Suicide might have if they substituted feedback for vocals, a little like the Dr Who theme tune, and was absolutely beautiful in an eerie sort of way. Spine tingling electro with a human face of rapt concentration/fascination. What a good idea.
Live, The Vichy Government are a beast of two halves. Between songs, the banter is casually self-deprecatory and funny("That was Your Dinner Is On Page 22, which was written by Delia Smith on a bad day. If you play the record backwards you get a lovely recipe for a pineapple soufflé."). The songs themselves, on the other hand, are confident and stylised. Frontman Jamie Manners, dressed down by his standards in a black shirt and tie, acts out the vocals as he speaks them, emphasising each line with appropriate declamatory gestures. Meanwhile Andrew Chiltern, his gadgetry arranged on a small coffee table in front of him, plays quite complicated tunes quite fast on a keyboard the size of a briefcase, somehow managing to make this look like a perfectly natural approach to pop music. This staged cabaret and kitsch performed in a manner both self-consciously detached and thoroughly invested in what it does, is thought provoking, often extremely funny, laudably provocative and always entertaining.
Next up is the whiplash tornado of unstable energy otherwise known as The Violets, here to grace us with their stilettoed punk rock stylings. In absence of a bassist they fill out their frantic, flailing sound with a guitarist who seems able to play two tunes at once and a drummer whose arms move faster than the human eye could follow. Singer Alexis stalks and jitters her way round the stage, gesturing with imploring impatience while delivering cryptically-worded lyrics in a manner falling somewhere between Siouxsie Sioux and a machinegun. The lack of a bass guitar just serves to add instability to their sense of coiled menace, the kind of insinuating threat which sidles round you with a sleek dark style and then proceeds to knife you from behind. What more could you ask for on a cold, dark Thursday night?