Times New Viking, Lovvers

Simon Jay Catling 22/09/2009

Fallowfield stands out like a newly-formed blister amongst the toughened skin of South Manchester. Whilst the area itself isn't particularly of-the-moment, those that reside in it are constantly refreshed: Fallowfield is Manchester's student haven, and this is its freshers' week. Amusing it is, to see wary late 20/early 30 year-olds' timidly winding their way through straggles of pissed-up, nurse outfit, pyjama wearing teenagers; cursing their luck that Times New Viking hadn't decided to stop off in more welcoming territory. The Northern Quarter, spiritual home to many of those in attendance tonight, would've perhaps made a far safer environment in which to see the Ohio lo-fi three-piece.

The Corner is, in many ways, a poor choice for a venue (it's narrow, you have to walk past the band to get to the toilets, and if you're not in the first three rows forget about seeing anything); in other ways it works though. This is exactly the type of cramped confine that provides the sort of claustrophobic, raw atmosphere any self-respecting noise band should thrive upon. Nottingham four-piece Lovvers certainly do. A tumbling, spitting mess of energy, Lovvers quite clearly couldn't give a shit whether we're enjoying their set or not; in fact I'm not sure they've noticed we're here yet, so immersed are they in throwing themselves into and on top of each other. When they do turn to us, however, it becomes a thrillingly confrontational experience; lead singer Shaun Henchman pushes himself into the collective face of a front row quiffed and cropped, clearly not ready for such a brutal come-on. All of this bite would be for nothing without tunes of course, but Lovvers have them in spades. Short, sharp ninety-second bursts of fuzz outstrip you no matter how hard you try to keep up; it's like The Cribs early work had the Jarmans' gone 60s power pop. 'Human Hair' is a playful, dizzy fuzz, whilst 'OCD Go Go Girls' bristles with a directness that's been missing from a lot of music this year.

In contrast to Drowned In Sound's enthusiastic championing of Lovvers, Times New Viking have found themselves clung to somewhat desperately by Pitchfork, hoping vainly that their blend of scratchy no-fi will push the umbrella of "indie" into new levels. It's a burden you wouldn't necessarily pin on the shoulders of three pretty normal looking people. Then they start making a racket. My god, there's a sardonic, twisted energy that flows out of Times New Viking. Live, the sandpaper production is missing, replaced instead by a brutal throttling of the sub-conscious; Hamish Gilmour hits his drums with such venom that you half expect them to tumble through the floor. He barks out partially heard lyrics, argues and laughs with keyboardist Brix E. Smith, drinks constantly: a perfect showman. Guitarist Mark iBold looks ill tonight, and takes any ailing frustrations out on his axe, pummeling the strings with a fixed anger. Combined it's breathless, hardly a moment passes between one song finishing and the next beginning. There's time enough only for a few shots of Jack Daniels, before they charge off on another rampage, whether it be the Pixies aping 'Teen Drama' or the squalled call and response of 'City On Drugs'. It's hard to tell whether the lack of reaction from the crowd is due to shell shock, or maybe it's just the awful sound; Gilmour's between-song witticisms go unheard by most of the crowd; and if you're standing further back, the already nihilistic timbre of the Ohio group's breakneck live reconstructions are nigh on unrecognisable.

Strangely though, such flaws don't matter too much tonight; such is the intended shambles that defines both Lovvers and Times New Viking, a set without problems would seem wrong, inappropriate almost. Whilst the fresher machine rumbles on outside; within the confines of The Corner we all turn a blind eye and simply ask for the volume to be turned up. Sometimes it works better that way.