Shellac, Koko, London, May 2007
Shellac of North America may well be the ‘supergroup’ you have never heard of. An uncomprimising three-piece staffed by Steve Albini (guitar and vocals), Bob Weston (bass guitar and vocals) and Todd Trainer (drums and vocals); these guys are American post-punk and hardcore royalty having been invovled in bands including Big Black, Rapeman, Volcano Suns, Naked Raygun, and Mission of Burma. Weston and Albini are also pretty darn good producers/engineers themselves, obsessed with analog & vintage equipment. Albini himself has produced/recorded some of my favourite records: Surfer Rosa by PIxies, Nirvana’s In Utero, PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me, Bizarro by The Wedding Present, mcclusky’s Do Dallas, and The Breeder’s Pod. Live, the first time I saw them play (with Fugazi, see Day XX) they were abrasive, aggressive, almost hostile to the audience in a very tense setting. This show at Koko had Albini cracking jokes with the crowd, and Trainer leaping out from behind the drum kit to do the same. They had a schtick going on. The contrast in demeanour between the two gigs could not have been more different, yet the music was itself was the same high quality. Minimal, syncopated, atonal, rhythmic, grating… awesome! These cats take you on a ride, and once again I got a kick out of the fact that a band which would play to a pretty small crowd in NZ (if they ever came out here) were filling two levels of Koko. Even Fi loved them - they are a bit on the harder side of my tastes for her, but I think she loved the show, and could not fathom why I had warned her so much about the possibly acerbic Albini. Tonight he was a wisecracking charmer. Go figure. Naturally, Shellac will not be found lurkin gon Spotify, so here is a YouTube live vid of them playing ‘Dog And Pony Show’, from the awesome At Action Park album.