Walpurgis Nacht – Night of the Demons (of Rock)

In Germany and across Europe ‘Walpurgis Nacht’ is a sort of Halloween or ‘Witches’ Night’ and takes place on April 30th. We decided to call our All-dayer this and some of the band names spookilly fitted.

 

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The Brixton Windmill is one of the few remaining old school music venues in London. It is set up just for putting on bands rather than a restaurant or Disco that slips  in bands as a retail bonus and tells them to be quiet or get out at early to make way for the DJ’s. So it’s always a fun place to play with lots of history and a smoking room we used for our ‘Acoustic Stage’ and a garden people chill out in.
Watt + The Missingmen had booked a last minute tour so we were pretty lucky to get them and lucky the Windmill wasn’t booked up. Tim who books for the Windmill was off sick and gutted as he’s a massive Watt fan and this was one of the best gigs the venue had had. They drove from the pretty similar (although with a massive rehearsal room set up too) db’s in Utrecht and arrived in time for a soundcheck-which last 1 song and sounded amazing. Dudes were so tight! Watt was using our Orange Terror Bass Head and SP212 Cab, his guitarist Tom (also in Red Krayola) used Simon smallgang’s Vox and Raul used the Damnably house snare and Windmill’s 1-legged Mapex Kit. We woulda brought our kit if we’d know but he worked it well with a cow bell then brick to hold it up.

Capt. Lovelace opened the show and charmed the early comers with her gentle folk. This was her London debut and debut using a PA but she wasn’t phased at all she’s got a cassette coming out on damnably soon and is playing quite a bit around the UK.

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Russell & The Wolf Choir busted out his jams using Toshi’s SG and the electric sound was crunchy and people were getting into it. He’s getting ready to drop his new EP later in the year.

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Former Utopia featuring Russ on bass played a loud set with a new song ‘hand bastard’ that was pretty damn exciting, but not totally there yet. Watt got up to dance to Exit Interview and loved it.

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Former Utopia live at Walpurgis Nacht by Damnably Records on Mixcloud

smallgang played 3 new songs and did a bit of guitar/bass swopping, and sounded massive. Masters of the FX pedals, and super tight as always.

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Smallgang live at Walpurgis Nacht, May 2 at Brixton Windmill 2015 by Damnably Records on Mixcloud

Crumbling Ghost features Ruth that was in smallgang now playing an Gibson SG bass Julian Cope gave her, with Donny from Koresh and Johnny from fantaplastic plus katie that also sings in
Passerines with smallgang Toshi. Matt from smallgang and slowgun drums and together it’s a pretty nuts doom, riff laden, folk, sludge volcano of sound. The whole room was
headbanging to Omnie Wise. The band ducked out of playing a new song as the tunings between them was tricky but the said they’d play it next time.

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Fishboy was over from Denton and had recorded with sound legend Matthew Barnhart also of the band Tre Orsi and was mates with AWA from the gig scene there. He commandeered the crowd to join him in smoking room and played a pretty long set, and won over the crowd who bought loads of his colourful merch. He was playing OddBox Weekender the next night too and made a lot of fans.

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Splintered Man followed him and that’s Simon from smallgang with school friend Alex played super complex acoustic songs about middle age dude issues.

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The room worked well and back on the main stage Už jsme doma from Prague in the Czech Republic were rocking the audience with some nuts sounding very tight prog-rock. This was their second gig in London in 30 years so they were happy.

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MIKE Watt and the Missingmen took the stage and the room was packed, baited with the musk of rock anticipation. Watt’s worn Gibson SG was out and the tone with no pedals-just straight to the amp with a funky cable was so pure and rich. Those orange heads and cabs are great but with Watt playing through, it was immense and Tom’s super tight playing on the J. Mascis Jazzmaster was wild. Raul was keeping it all together and positioned up with the guitars rather than way back and seemed to work for a tighter group mind meld. They rolled through Hyphenated Man (Watt’s Third Opera) –  a 45 minute song in 30 parts inspired by creatures from the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch . I’d played a few of these on our Podcast but and highlights for me were Man Shitting Man, Bird-In-The-Helmet-Man but the more gentle ones I’d not listened to enough on the record really shone. The whole Opera is streaming at https://soundcloud.com/wattfrompedro/hyphenated-man-by-mike-watt

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Mike Watt & The Missingmen live at Walpurgis Nacht All-Dayer 2015 by Damnably Records on Mixcloud

As an encore the band played 5 ot 6 minutemen including Bod Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs and the crowd went nuts.
Everyone was really stoked at such an eclectic line-up and fun atmosphere. Watt was tripping that the last time he was in Brixton was at the Ace which was later named the Fridge then Electric some 32 years ago with the Minutemen and Black Flag. The area like all of London is being gentrified and areas socially cleansed to make way for the rich so while the Brixton Windmill lasts it’s a safe haven against the hipster venues and not very rock or punk scenes. mike mentioned a cool new project that was coming up and a load of other plans and he really dug our collective of bands/label and gigs promoting/tour booking. To have a legend like Watt notice what we are up to made us all feel very proud too.
They drove back to Amsterdam as smallgang took our back-line to Karma (thanks to phil for letting us load in so last) and we got the bus home feeling like we’d just met a god.

 

What a night!

Read Mike Watt’s Tour Diary that covers each night in detail here

* Pictures from Mark Davess, Alex, Simon, Janice & George