confessions are self-serving


I had loaded up on coffee the morning of the big presentation. It turned out to be a drastic miscalculation of the need for adrenaline reserves, as by the time I staggered up to stage in front of that terrible audience my stomach had more knots than Ronnie Wood’s arthritic gristle mittens. The worst part of it was those devils didn’t even register how nervous I had become. Each grey, bored, slab of a face stared through my thick black rimmed glasses right into my dilated and bloodshot eyes, uncovering every lie I’ve ever told, shining a 10000 kilowatt bulb onto my rawest fears and desires for all to see. They all stared, unblinking, as the words came pouring forth; some script rehearsed to such an extreme that I wasn’t even conscious of speaking at all – it was all white noise – a foul exertion of a motor-skill. I realised that even a goddamn talking elephant could have been standing up on stage, anything would have received the same reception. Is this really it? As the “highly accurate” drone slays twenty-five innocent in their slumber, nail bombs purge crimson flesh from ivory, speedboats run amok churning up water-skiers like butter and countless infants perish from cholera – I stand, a pathetic tribute to a facile cause, mediocre to its finest definition. I will receive my 2:1 with honours sir! Tout le pouvoir à l’imagination!

Enter Shikari

We arrived as the first support was finishing up. The hall was perhaps two thirds full and the smell currently fresh, yet to be graced with five hundred bodies’ odour; the floor dry, yet to be tarnished by water, lager, blood…

The crowd? As one would expect. A core of adolescents sporting a mixture of bright hair, tattoos, piercings, skinny jeans and short-shorts – spattered by a selection of grizzled veterans, mostly male and over forty, either those that have always had a taste for well performed live music or those that managed to stay up-to-date enough with pop-culture to be genuine fans.

Princess Pavilions, where the event was staged, is not a large venue with capacity at perhaps 600 in the main hall. This proved no restraint for lead vocalist Rou Reynolds, who at one point disappeared offstage eerily cackling “I’m behinnndd you” before shooting his head, like some crazed jack-in-a-box, out of an opening twenty feet up the rear wall. Guitarist Liam Clewlow, in similar creative vein, took advantage of the innocuously positioned boxes that lay directly right of the stage. He clambered skywards, in a possible tribute to King Kong, swinging his guitar around his head like a discus thrower and howling like some injured animal – miraculously never missing a note.

Enter Shikari reek of passion. It is a characteristic common among musicians before they make their ‘big break’, but rarely does it survive the crushingly oppressive nature of the music industry. Shikari still roar around the stage like yobbos doing donuts in a car park, full of the same youthful energy that they demonstrated back in ’07. This is, however, layered with a confidence – that instead of making their performances sloppy – has allowed them to push the boundaries of live performance further with every show.

Watching back through some of the clips captured of the gig on Youtube is similar to studying a stained spoon that you had used to cook heroin the night before. The images on a screen are just a shadow of the experience. A severed limb from a giant centipede. But like all signifiers, they produce a memory that invokes emotion. The emotions invoked from seeing Enter Shikari? A raw elation accompanied by enjoyable pain. My glasses were smashed off my stupid face during the second song, so I spent the majority of the gig staring bleary eyed, like some surfaced mole, praying to strobe flickering deities while being jangled around in flesh rapids.

As headphone music, yeah, they’re good. A concoction of hardcore with DnB and dubstep influences has left Shikari as one of the most original bands of the last decade. To get the most out of them though, I would catch them on tour:

You won’t be disappointed.