|Venue:||London Camden Underworld|
Standing in the aromatic Camden Underworld toilets after the gig, I overheard two fellow attendees discussing the night’s entertainment. “Yeah, I really liked Karma To Burn, I liked the way it was mostly instrumental”.
“MOSTLY instrumental? It was ALL instrumental you unobservant cock!” Obviously I didn’t say that to him. He was bigger than me and I didn’t want to have my head beaten into the urinals for such a pedantic point. But the fact was this was an all instrumental gig, the microphone at the front of the stage as redundant as Anne Frank’s drum kit, save for when the band arrived on stage and guitarist William Mecum growled “What’s shaking, London?"
For those unfamiliar with Karma To Burn, as I was until recently, the band don’t mess about with pretentious song titles for their songs, they simply give them a number, hence their set-list contained the likes of the ‘Forty Seven’, the deep South-influenced opening track from the latest release, V, and the awesome ‘Eight’ from their eponymous debut album.
I’m shallow enough to dismiss a band’s live performance simply because the drummer doesn’t look like he’s putting in the effort. That’s certainly not the case here, Rob Oswald pounding out a seriously big noise throughout. Rich Mullins on bass is the showman of the band, very animated and playing up to the audience, seemingly loving every minute. But it’s Mecum, playing a mean lead guitar, who controls the proceedings. I’m not talking guitar solos. It’s just riff after riff after dirty blues-riddled riff.
Of course describing the music as ‘bluesy’ may put some people off but it shouldn’t; ultimately this is heavy, fast paced, infectious, groove-laden sleazy stoner rock performed by a band in their prime who know they're onto a good thing. If Karma To Burn’s songs were a man he would be a long-haired, unshaven, unemployed drunk lying in a trailer park in the shade of his mobile home, wallowing in a pool his own Jack Daniels-induced vomit...but in a cool way. Because that’s what this music is; disreputable and grimy but at the same time seriously cool as fuck.
The only disappointing thing about the evening, other than seeing my brother wearing ear plugs (harden the fuck up, Tim), is seeing the Underworld not sold out, although those present are witness to something pretty special. A small but consistent mosh pit keeps up with the band for the 70 minute set including a short encore. Karma To Burn never outstay their welcome and leave the audience baying for more.
I can’t tell you the names (numbers?) of all the songs played tonight, all I can tell you is that in I've witnessed an Olympic-sized riff masterclass. On this evidence, vocals are overrated.
Posted: Tue 4 September 2012