LIVE REPORTWHITE STAGE7/28 SAT
Scaries Wear Boots
I was talking to a fellow Fuji Rock writer about the age of some of the bands playing at this year’s fest, noting that this year’s line-up had seen a significant increase in younger performers (or may I was just feeling old). Aside from the 11-year old performer in the Martinez Family circus show, Starcrawler easily come in as some of the youngest artists at the fest, yet rocking a sound their parents were listening to into bedrooms 30-plus years ago. The irony of this conversation taking place in our pajamas at 1am in our hotel room, rather than whilst necking shots at the Crystal Palace or raging up at the Unfairground is not lost on this writer. It is often a shock to realize that that the feeling in your rock ‘n roll soul is no longer matched by your body’s capacity for debauchery. Luckily, bands like Starcrawler help us to get our vicarious thrills.
Much has been made of the heavy 70s vibe exuded by Starcrawler and just looking at the band it is easy to see why. Drummer Austin Smith is bathed in his own luxuriant waist-length locks, while bassist Tim Franco is unassuming in high-slung bass and skinny t-shirt. Guitarist Henri Cash opens the set in cowboy boots and a blue jimbei, charging to the front of the stage and ripping a discordant growl from his guitar as he grimaces at the crowd. Most arresting though is front-woman Arrow De Wilde, who appears on stage dressed in white fringed trousers and vest, all hip bones and angles below her distressed blonde locks. Throughout the set one cannot help but be drawn to her gyrations, seizures and rolling eyes – she is magnetic and an utter breath of fresh air for Fuji Rock, where the main stages have been sorely lacking in female-fronted bands in the last few years.
The band’s brief punk ditties are ferocious and guttural. “Ants” is a pure 3-chord punch, “I Love LA” is distorted, grimy and catchy. Meanwhile, “Let Her Be” and “Different Angles” take on a sludgy groove overwritten with animal shrieks, the depths of which are probably the reason some folks like to make weak Black Sabbath comparisons. There is no doubt that this is catchy and entertaining stuff, but given the current reliance on source material, it will be interesting to see how the band progress from this as both they and their music mature.
To be fair, most of this is music is pure backing-track to whatever Arrow De Wilde is up to. Be it falling theatrically to the floor, hugging herself and trembling as she glares feral at the audience, or casually noting the passing of a dragonfly as she sings, it is difficult to pay attention to anything else going on. And de Wilde is most certainly aware of this, arching and posing a la Iggy Pop, mouthing the microphone and gesturing lasciviously on “What I Want”. The spectacle reaches a denouement when de Wilde turns to the audience dripping a mouthful of blood, a piece of theatre no less disconcerting for it’s artifice.
During final song “Chicken Woman” de Wilde hops down from the stage and gets pulled about by the crowd, ending up slumped by the barriers before being removed towards the first aid tent at the side of the stage. Meanwhile, guitarist Cash pulls a couple on stage to take over guitar-duties while he mangles at his strings. It’s a suitably punk ending to a theatrical and memorable performance. How they ramp it up from here, we can only wait and see.