Gig Reviews

I Like Cats With: Exquisite Corpse – Oxford Arts Factory 3rd July 2008

I Like Cats are easily one of the most exciting and original bands to emerge from the depths of the Sydney scene this year. Having only played a handful gigs before, they have already earned a reputation for packing out venues and delivering sternum thumping live sets to make your nana cry.

Blending the wall-of-sound post-rock style of bands like Explosions In The Sky and Do Make Say Think with the melodic sensibilities of Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle, Cats, as they are affectionately known, are a band to be experienced not heard.

They took to the stage all in white (bar drummer William Newton Johnson), flanked by a wall of abstract film projection, giving the whole place a very Warhol vibe. Launching into Cargando, guitarists Rollo Augustus Anderson and Dylan Baskind let fly soaring harmonies and intricate riff work, working together like coal-mining Siamese twins.

Johnston was hammering away like a man possessed churning out tasty rhythms, each sweeter than the next, as the band steamed forward, crashing through crescendo after crescendo with the ferocity of a rabid Rottweiler that just got ass raped by a kitten.

Cellist Dominic Mercer (who was playing his first show with the band) was the cream on the proverbial pie, adding elegant harmonies, and subtle counter-melodies that filled out the band’s sound. Coupled with Hispanic bassist Jaie Gonzalez’s distorted and reverb-laden basslines, I Like Cats deliver a live show that feels like getting punched in the stomach while being given the best blow job of your life.

The highlight of the set was Monster. Starting with some blatant Jon Theodore appropriation, the band drop into a ball-bouncing riff reminiscent of Kashmir or Wake Up, with the entire band playing in unison before moving into more complex and heavy riffs that are… well, Monstrous.

Unfortunately the rest of the night was far less impressive. Exquisite Corpse is a night of performance art, music and socialising, or at least it is supposed to be. The level of the performance art could not be described as anything other than, standard-pretentious-university-bullshit.

Dancing around and taking your clothes off is not performance art. It’s stripping. Screaming terrible poetry with your shirt off is not performance art. It’s just annoying.

Now I don’t want to come off as the cynical bastard speaking down to those with the courage to perform, I realise these people were just doing their best and trying to entertain, I just resent it being called art.

And that’s the problem, Exquisite Corpse has so much potential, but they’ve got to get some quality performers. It really felt they just rounded up the drama students to crap to get a role in a play, gave them booze and said have at it. It’s a great idea, and if anyone reading this is a performance artist, get in contact with the promoters (just search Exquisite Corpse on facebook) and get involved, because with some more work it could be more exquisite than corpse.

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