Today is March 18th, and The Beast From the East (v2.0) has reared its head again, burying the UK under the sheer crushing weight of…a little snow. Everything grinds to a halt, resulting in cancelled plans and crushed dreams. The same happened earlier in March, when Husky Loops were due to swing in to Oxford as part of their UK headline tour. TBFTE (v1.0) resulted in them calling off the show and rescheduling.
This was a secret blessing for me. I was on the fence about going the first time round. I’d just started listening to them a little more, but was thinking I’ll either have to work late and go straight there, or go home to build an igloo and start training huskies to use as transportation for the months of snow that were ahead of us. In the end, I decided to go home, only to find out the show was cancelled, rendering my selfish choice 100% valid. Ayn Rand would have been proud. I ultimately spent most of the night just simulating a Husky Loops gig by watching this performance on a loop, very loudly. It was at this point that I realised, God, I really need to see this band live.
Fast forward two weeks, and we’d slowly started picking up the pieces following the fallout from TBFTE (v1.0). Husky Loops braved the fierce mild weather to come ply their wears at The Cellar. First, a quick word on The Cellar. How brilliant is it that the venue, with overwhelming public support, managed to overturn their landowners initial decision to shut the place down as a music venue. It’s such a great place for live music. Low ceilings, very intimate, and the sound is always so good. So hooray for that. But now for Husky Loops.
For the uninitiated, they typically create this angular, fierce noise, throwing in frequent time signature changes, and sneaky little melodic moments. After watching the live video above a million times over, the movements between songs show off their love for J-Dilla esq sampling / hip-hop in general, and suddenly I realised that their music also had little moments where this influence comes through.
However, watching the live video didn’t come close to the experience of seeing them live. First, the brutality of the noise when they are at their loudest is just so good. ‘Tempo’ is a favourite of mine, with the bass and drums driving much of the noise, but the breakdown at the end with the guitar jumping into the chaos was just brilliant. In a similar vein was ‘Dead’ which came toward the end of the show. It’s such a rough and ready racket that ticks all kind of Fugazi and Gang of Four boxes for me.
But what’s fun is that amongst that wall of sound, they’ve got moves when it comes to pumping out songs with real melodic, pop hooks. Recent single release ‘When I Come Home’ shows off those chops, with this sunny guitar line that runs right through the whole track, but sounds so good in particular during the chorus, along with backing vocals. Same story with ‘Girl Who Wants To Travel The World’, which latches on to this excellent groove from the bass that is carried throughout, with these perfect flourishes from the guitar. And the drums. I haven’t mentioned the drums yet, but the Husky Loops drums might be some of my favourite drums ever. I’m too much of a plebian about drums (and music in general) to really know what the hell is going on, but there’s so much more going on besides just setting up some regular beat. If anything, that clear appreciation of hip-hop production comes shining through in the percussion. And to be able to do that live is quite something.
Besides all of the eulogising above, I haven’t even really talked about the show as a whole. It’s so all-encompassing and overpowering. They have visuals projected onto the wall behind the drummer that accompany each track so well. Many of the tracks are linked together with little interludes, sometimes with or without samples triggered from a drum pad. There’s an intensity and commitment to the show that just leaves you feeling like you’re suffering from a Bush era shock-and-awe campaign when it’s over.
So thanks to the snow for giving me a second chance to see Husky Loops. And for giving me an excuse to post some pictures of when I lived in a country with real snow (Oh Canada). I’m off to build my new house made of snow. Let’s see you try and charge council tax on that Oxford City Council.