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LIVE: Cantaloupe, The Cusp and I Am Lono

14 May 13 words: Stephen Murphy
When crazed killer cyborgs finally rise up and decide to rid the world of humanity, this is what they’ll be listening to as they go about their work
Cantaloupe Live

Cantaloupe featuring Kneel Before Zod visuals

As I trudge up the stairs leading to The Chameleon, I’m struck by the sad thought that this will be one of the last times I make this voyage of musical discovery. Barring a last minute change of heart by the owner, this unique music venue is due to close very, very soon. With this in mind, I order the first ‘mystery’ beer of the evening...

This pre-emptive mourning is halted in its tracks though, by the fact that The Chameleon is rammed to capacity for tonight’s much anticipated gig by Nottingham electro noise beasts, Cantaloupe. Having listened to upcoming EP title track Splish non-stop for the last week, any residual glumness is jettisoned in favour of buttock clenching anticipation.

With the promise of visual stimulation from Nottingham’s Kneel Before Zod as well, hopes for the evening are unfeasibly high…

First up tonight are I Am Lono. I actually owe I Am Lono a huge apology. Having seen them play live earlier this year, I casually dismissed them as a wholly unremarkable, bad tempered, Flight of the Concords tribute act, who seemingly just perform Visage’s Fade to Grey over and over and over again. I clearly left my ears (and my musical taste) at home that night… Sorry I Am Lono.

Unsmiling they may be, but I Am Lono’s musical fare is clearly more akin to Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire than bloomin’ Visage. On this second listening, songs like Leland and In Silence turn out to be hip swaggering, ear pummelling slabs of dark, synth-gothpop, with bass lines so deep and rumbling, that they threaten to prove the existence of the mythical 'brown note’.

I Am Lono. A band that thrill, terrify and have the potential to cause trouser stainage. You can’t ask for much more than that. Thank God for second chances!

The late 80s/early 90s. A time of questionable haircuts, unspeakable crimes against fashion, and weekly, over-excited announcements from The NME, about the development of yet another life altering music scene. Some of these ‘scenes’ were real (Madchester). Some were clearly made up by bored music hacks (Lion Pop, Nu-Prog). One scene however umbrellaed bands, some of whom were so good, that they’re still causing ripples in today’s musical environment. That scene was Shoegazing….

The Cusp clearly draw influence from some of these Shoegazing legends (to these ears, My Bloody Valentine and Kitchens of Distinction in particular), who over twenty years ago, made noisy, yet dreamlike introspection, seem like the future of music. However, this young three piece have the skill, charm, and more importantly the tunes, to suggest they’re a part of an evolution of this effects-pedal-heavy genre of music, rather than just being a tired re-tread. 

After blasting through a fantastic set, the enthusiastic reception afforded to The Cusp by the packed Chameleon crowd, suggests I’m not alone in thinking that they’re yet another Nottingham act on the brink of greater things. Check out BlotOnTheEscutcheon if you’re in the market for a slice of quality nu-gazing.

All week, at random times, whether in the shower, on the lavatory, or simply when annoying one of the cats, a blipperty/blopperty refrain has been entering my head, in an all-consuming, “I CAN’T STOP HUMMING IT”, kind of a way. The catchy bastard of a tune that has burrowed into my psyche, is non-other than Splish by tonight’s headliners, Cantaloupe.

Sometimes, catchy can become psychotically irritating pretty damn quickly (REM’s Shiny Happy People is a perfect example), but with Splish, I suspect I could carry on listening to it until the end of times without feeling the urge to harm myself or others.

Played live however, Splish takes on yet another dimension. A mixture of Cantaloupe’s prowess as a live band, and the gargantuan Chameleon PA, turn this piece of electro pop loveliness into a booming, grooving, growling MONSTER of a song. When crazed killer cyborgs finally rise up and decide to rid the world of humanity, this is what they’ll be listening to as they go about their work.

Elsewhere, tunes like Wet Dog and Das Booty demonstrate that Cantaloupe have an abundance of imagination, talent and ideas, and are by no means one trick Krautrock ponies. In fact, with material this good, the smart money has got to be on them becoming not just the next Nottingham ‘big thing’, but a globe straddling behemoth of Kraftwerk/ Daft Punk proportions. Is this wishful, unbridled hyperbole or skilled, prescient journalism? Only time will tell.

Tonight has showcased a wondrous selection of new music, but what about the accompanying visuals, created by self-professed ‘cinema renegades', Kneel Before Zod? Well, I can’t think of anytime in my life, when I’ve been so amused/confused/disturbed by a collection of random TV and film snippets.

In no particular order, I think I saw:-

  • Old Nottingham city centre cine footage intercut with images of meat being processed
  • Sausages. Lots of sausages
  • Planet of the Apes look-a-likes riding around on push bikes
  • Weirdy beardy Russian communists
  • Footage from ZX Spectrum games

Trippy, head-messing/dream-altering stuff, but so well done, I suspect I could watch one of KBZ’s visual creations for hours without the sound on and still be completely mesmerised.

So with eyes and ears happily sated, another quality evening in The Chameleon comes to an end…

Thanks in no small part to the infectiously enthusiastic hosting skills of Hello Thor’s Nick Lawford, tonight easily goes into my top five Chameleon memories. It’s a crying shame then, that this venue will soon be no more. What a rubbish thought to end what has been a truly brilliant night.

Cantaloupe, The Cusp and I Am Lono played at The Chameleon on Saturday 11 May 2013.

Splish / Wet Dog 12" from Cantaloupe is out soon on Hello Thor.

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