- Rescue Rooms - Nottingham
- East Midlands
As an artist I’ve always envied the immediacy of live music and audience response, compared to the gallery or live art experience. You perform, you get instant feedback. And for me neither art nor music really exists without an audience. Without audience the work is untested. The audience brings the work into both being and discourse.
I turn to both forms for some kind of catharsis and cerebral stimuli but unlike music, art rarely reverberates through my body causing various states of instinctive twitching, gyration, whooping or euphoria. I find art tends to generate a more reflective kind of soul food, slowly digestible and assimilated into my being in an altogether less frenetic manner. I am glad to have both in my life. I have Art as a producer and Music in my life as an audience member.
Art schools have sporadically spewed out ballsy musicians that cross boundaries and good art and music function in part to challenge the status quo. They do this by offering more than passive regurgitation. Good art and music steal from the past but even if they cook the same old ingredients, they mix and serve them up in stimulating and unpredictable ways.
The Moonlandingz gig at the Rescue rooms, gave a delightful masterclass in that process of taking the past and making it fresh. With absurdist stage antics and daft costumes they gave arguably the best de-construction of rock and roll and its personae that you could wish for. But there was much more to it than mere art school piss take or vacuous irony. This gig, this occurrence, was for me a thing of unadulterated joy. An event delivering subversion, pathos, self-deprecation, and a life affirming vaudevillian catharsis. All held in state of teetering balance by tight stage craft. All anchored and underpinned by bloody marvellous, pulsing, kick arse rock and roll. It was encapsulating. The set took in aspects referencing early Stooges, Glam rock, The Cramps, Soft Cell, and even shades of eighties power ballads, carefully couched in a frame of retro electronic sound.
Front man Lias Saoudi was wholly captivating and worked himself up in to a Iggy-esque frenzy while Rebbeca Taylor counterpointed his manic persona with a belting voice and lovingly contrived set piece stage stances. The female bassist exuded a deadly serious Nico like bewildered avatar, whilst occasionally cracking a smile. The keyboard player was like a hatted theatrical Phil Collins parody.
As a band they are exaggerated archetypes, but musically much bigger than that. The leap of faith and belief is visibly evident across the crowd. We believe. As an audience we feel a curious collective power, you could call it hope, you could call it escape, you could call it sanctuary. The band are also having bloody good fun and it is infectious. Something in rather short supply in austerity Britain.
If we step beyond the concert as experience and view it as an artwork, then The Moonlandingz jab at and counterpoint the desperate vacuum of globalisation and soulless consumerism that pretty much dominates culture and the music industry in the UK. It is very much a product of our disaffected zeitgeist. We live, we shop, we die.
The antics and absurdity reminded me of a Paul Mcarthy, meets Vito Acconci meets an early Claes Oldenburg (before he started to make little things big). Whether you call it music or art, it seems driven by a desire to transmit rather than consume in our weirdly messed up world. In one online interview Saoudi talks about his art school experience lacking any clear feedback or direction. Well, if that’s what drove him into music, we should thank art education for that.