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Ouch My Generator featuring Oathbreaker, Coilguns and more

Ouch My Generator Oathbreaker Coilguns Bastions Undersmile

As the colder months draw in and people spend less time outside drinking and more time inside…well, drinking…you tend to get more all-day events popping up. It’s a good way to spend your weekend, although it does take a real chunk out of your weekend.

For this reason, I only made it down to Nightshift Promotions’ semi-regular Ouch My Generator all-dayer for the last four bands – although I caught the final track of Kruger‘s set, and it seemed like I missed out; vocalist Renaud had the crowd in his thrall, and there was something very intriguing about their sound.

I was also advised that Telepathy put on a pretty rad show, but alas, the first act I caught was Oxfordshire four-piece Undersmile.

When you spend as much time as I do listening to either tech or melodic music, it can be quite hard to get on with sludge and particularly doom genres, and this is exactly where these guys fall on the musical spectrum. Their sound is grave and muddy, and guitarists Hel and Taz deliver their shared vocal duties in a manner that is deadpan and dirgeful – like we’re at a wake for the grim reaper himself.

I’m pretty sure this is perfect for the genre, but it’s not for me. The vocals are at times off-key – intentionally? – and the drawn-out music repetitive. When they break into screaming there’s some urgency, but it’s a little too sparse for me

In stark contrast, Bastions produce some of the most thrilling emotive hardcore I’ve heard live in quite a while. My knuckles don’t reach quite low enough to the floor for the machismo bro-down culture surrounding some hardcore bands, but this is the other side of the coin, and the kind of passion and fury found in this Welsh quartet is stonkingly evocative.

In the vein of Defeater and La Dispute, Bastions play emotional hardcore like they were born with it in their veins. Vocalist Jamie Burne is wild-eyed and clearly heavily invested in the material. It shows that he cares, and when the crowd start shouting out the intro to “Augury” he is visibly touched.

In fact, the crowd are clearly into them throughout; movement is almost constant, and they’re repaid in kind by the kineticism from the stage. There are only four of them – including fill-in drummer Casey McHale from Goodtime Boys – and it’s notable that because of this, each instrument is laid bare – you can hear every note, every strum, every idiosyncrasy. It makes for a sort of honesty that is perfect for the style, and it elevates the performance considerably.

Coilguns were the only band on the bill I’d seen or even listened to before, but that was more than enough to secure my attendance. The first time Simon and I met was when these guys played a tiny basement show in Islington early last year, and we’ve both been besotted with the Swiss trio ever since.

All three used to be members of The Ocean, but their output here couldn’t be more different; angular, frenetic and dissonant, songs blur together in a wall of noise. As sole guitarist Jona Nido and drummer Luc Hess ramp up the noise on stage, frontman Louis Jucker walks the entirety of the room, ‘encouraging’ the stragglers at the back to move to the front.

He then proceeds to barrel though them as the first proper track kicks in, and from then on he barely keeps to the stage, let alone stands still. A small subset at the front attempt to match his erratic movement, but he’s almost literally a blur and I have to remove my glasses for safety, so I have no idea where he is half the time.

He’s the focal point of a swarm of activity that somehow engulfs the room, despite the small size of the band. Luc makes excellent use of his kit, which is bijou at best. “Earthians” sees him banging out a tribal rhythm using just the bass, tom and snare, before Louis and and one or two others pick up guitars and contribute to the song’s epic build.

Favourites such as “Commuters Part 1” and “Plug-In Citizens” threaten to level the venue with their volatile energy, and by the end of the set, there are a lot of smiling faces, as well as a few heaving lungs. Probably a pints of spilled liquid on the floor too.

I’d been hearing good things about Oathbreaker all evening (“oh man, you’re in for a treat”) so expectations were high. They did not disappoint.

I hadn’t realised before, but the Belgian band are signed to Deathwish Inc. I maintain that this is usually an indelible mark of quality, and even from their staging, you can see this is true. Vocalist Caro is dressed in a floor-length white gown, with her long hair covering her face for much of the set as she screams and bellows into the mic, looking much like Samara from The Ring. She’s almost as scary.

They play a composite of hardcore and black metal; unearthly shrieked vocals and cymbal-heavy percussion combining with thundering pace and chunky riffs. Labelmates Black Breath spring to mind, and the crowd regularly breaks out into a thrashing moshpit around the venue’s central column; you can’t help but move.

There’s also a cultish aspect in the slower, hypnotic songs; you almost feels your eyes glaze over and your body sway of its own accord. By the time they finish, the audience is in love, and want more. Fucking fantastic stuff.