On a rainy night in a small coastal city, three of the finest local talents converged to asphyxiate a little pub with psychotic, psychedelic and psychopathic sounds. Those bands came in the form of Portsmouth wall-of-noise shoegazers Is Bliss, aggressive psych warlords Melt Dunes, and noise rock outfit Weird Sex, each one loud and powered by numbers of effects pedals in the double figures, and the pub came in the form of the Alex, a small pub in Southampton decked out with impressive amounts of film merchandise.
Sporting bowlcuts and denim jackets, Is Bliss opened the night with one of the louder sets to shake the walls of the Alex in recent times. Their sound was a sorta slow building shoegaze sound that came halfway between the sheer noise of A Place To Bury Strangers and the melodic sensibility of The Horrors circa Primary Colours, and their songs had a kinda slow building ethereal syrupy quality as the vast amount of effects pedals allowed the guitars to fill up the room in a spectacular way.
Melt Dunes followed, and completely tore the Alex a new one with their own brand of anger-psych. A four-piece, their set was one free flowing noise that pummelled and transported with some of the best guitar sounds, the most explosive dynamics changes and tortured reverb drenched vocals. I've reviewed them live before, and if you have any real proof that they're not the one of the best live bands in the country, I challenge you to see 'em live and disagree.
The headline act go by the name of Weird Sex, and it was their first gig - although they conquered the tiny stage as if they'd done it lots of times before. Basically, imagine Bez fronting the Jesus and Mary Chain. A stand-up drummer, guitarist dealing out heavy scratchy noise over the top of raucous noise-pop songs and a frontman that had such a swagger to him as he boomed out the lyrics. From start to finish, they were mesmerising, noisy, and justified their presence at the top of the bill with a raucous set of leering noise.
Three bands proving further that the south coast has one of the greatest and most underrated scenes in the country, Melt Dunes, Is Bliss and Weird Sex are all bands you're gonna hear much more of in the coming months. Southampton and Portsmouth are a hotbed for bands at the moment, and these are among the cream of them.
(written by calum cashin)