Saturday, November 6, 2010

Shit & Shine - ICA, London, 5 November 2010

Shit & Shine are performing as part of the ICA’s Rhythm Section festival.

Shit & Shine begin quietly. Playing some wistful, Americana whimsy. The dreamy tone is counter-pointed by the singer who in an exaggerated English accent recounts an elaborately mundane tale.

I wonder if they’re playing a game of double bluff. I keep expecting them to crank up the tempo. But they maintain their genteel pace. When are they going to cut loose? Perhaps they’re not going to. Maybe they’ve tired of the drum thunder.

Shit & Shine finish teasing us. They shift up a couple of gears. The guitarists switch to keyboards adding electronic swooshes. The five drummers synchronise.

And I am underwhelmed.

It’s not a feeling you expect to have when you go to see such a finely honed rhythm assault unit. The beat feels pedestrian. It lacks the confrontational, clattering, edge when Shit & Shine are at their most visceral.

I find myself slowly numbed by their sound. Bored even.

But that is just a gateway through which I have to travel. I reach some kind of Zen state. The seemingly dull rhythm is now infecting my mind. My perceptions have been transformed. Conscious thoughts have fallen away. There is only the present and the relentless rhythm.

I notice that one of the band is having problems with his keyboard. Suddenly it appears above his head broken into pieces. Nothing it seems will be granted mercy.

Deprived of his instrument he switches back to guitar, riffing in time with the drummers. The singer is no longer pretending to be Noel Coward. His hectoring distorted vocals recall PiL. It’s exhilarating. Purifying. I have been pummelled into submission. Shit & Shine have defeated me again.
Preferred drink: Sussex Best Bitter

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