The grittiest, most explosive of lineups was in the house tonight for Brighton band Keg. Regular gig attendees might not have expected to witness a seven-piece barrage take the floor downstairs of Clwb Ifor Bach; if it wasn’t such a packed show, you could imagine members taking to the floor for extra room.
Openers Bad Shout were a splintering punk trio from Swansea. Their spitting and hollering lead vocalist doubled up as a fast-acting guitarist whose licks felt liquidising, with thrashing drums and chugging bass, crotchety and noisy from the word go. To follow, Cardiff’s Shlug incorporated brooding bass and frantic cymbal crashes, frontman Ellis Acton-Dyer’s roars blurring into the brute force of sound. An ensemble who could have stepped out of the 1980s LA punk scene, in their weight Shlug bring endless, sidesplitting, noisy immediacy; on a floor-level stage like this one, it’s concentrated like a bubble about to explode at any given minute.
Headliners Keg are what I imagine you’d expect to find if you crossed The Blue Man Group with Minutemen and maybe the chaos of @dril on Twitter. Keg, as musicians, makes you feel like you’ve been throwing the word ‘angular’ around unnecessarily up to this point. They really own that word with their turbulent instrumental sections, overlaying guitar phrases upon synth bloops upon vocalist Albert Haddenham’s yells. Meanwhile trombonist Charlie Keen cups a conch shell mid-set like something from SpongeBob SquarePants.
This isn’t my first Keg rodeo – at August’s Green Man festival I witnessed the post-punks breathe new life into a festival Sunday morning. Now on their Fantastic Bastards tour, KEG perform material from latest EP Girders as well as earlier cuts from 2021’s Assembly, with Breaking Rocks and Presidential Walk both jolting as they are catchy. Live, they add theirs to the influx of names bringing out their playful and absurd side at a time when it’s most needed. There’s also an underbelly there of tight timekeeping and harmonic precision, which makes the future of this band a really exciting one.
Keg, Shlug, Bad Shout, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Wed 2 Nov
words and photos EMMA WAY