Geisha | Live Review

By Serena Cherry

Batting first for Bristols’ noise team tonight are the ever-expansive post rock three piece Thought Forms, who quite literally put dozens of (effect) pedals to the metal, and overdrive the audience into their own little world of fuzz. They begin their set with some ethereal sounding recent material; combining minimalist delayed guitars with guitarist Charlies’ beautiful soft vocals, to pay a slow-building homage to the hazy sound of My Bloody Valentine.

After setting a dream-like mood from the start, Thought Forms then proceed to wash these walls of sound with waves distortion, with more new tunes including  ‘Song For Junko‘ picking up the frenetic pace a little more; until by mid-set the band are really starting to let loose and rock out. This is the point where it becomes impossible to ignore drummer Guy Chadwicks’ ability to play inventive beats with both immense feel and precision; as his accomplished technique brings out all the intricacies in Thought Forms lovely dual guitar interplay. Their synergy is mesmerizing, their riffs are subtle yet mountainous, and their set is a heartfelt journey into total sonic immersion, which stops to appreciate every seminal post-rock band on its’ way.

Next up are local scene stalwarts Big Joan, who confidently deliver a masterclass in brash post-punk and pulsating bass lines. While placed in direct contrast on tonight’s bill, their off kilter ideas are initially less easy to digest than Thought Forms’ twinkling soundscapes; yet the rhythmic tension that Big Joan create and sustain comes with satisfying rewards of its own. The fluidity of their time signature changes, combined with the ease at which band members swap guitars for synths or microphones for percussive dustbins; makes for an impressively honed performance of an impressively honed sound. Whilst the boys effortlessly hold down the bands’ abrasive pop concoctions, singer Annette uses quirky props that range from telephones to egg shakers throughout the performance, adding yet more lashings of character to her distinctive sweet-and-sour vocals.

With one half of their remaining band members now residing in Berlin (namely the suave horror-disco composer ‘Antoni Maiovvi’); a Geisha gig is a real treat for the motley crew of fans they have acquired during their 11 years spent pushing Bristols musical boundaries. Whilst the angry gabba beast they unleash tonight may seem unrecognizable from the clever noise rock band they once were; it is great to see that the furious rawness which became synonymous with early Geisha has been carried lovingly along in their recent musical transition. Hunched over a table covered with pedals, mixers and samplers; the animated duo proceed to spit roast the crowds ears with the chainsaws of electronic noise they create. In a blur of sardonic samples and vicious techno blasts, their set flies past as a short-but-definitely-not-sweet cathartic experience; leaving those who survived dazed, in a blissful cocoon of their own tinnitus.