- The Evil Usses
As we draw ever closer to the closure of the Kazimier, it is sometimes sad to attend events there and be reminded of the eclectic and inspiring creative endeavours that they have given us. Fortunately, the Kazimier Garden is to survive the upcoming bulldozing, which is great news considering the huge amount of innovative and avant-garde artists that frequent its stage. Tonight is no different, with performances from two bands who operate on the fringes of contemporary music.
First up are Bristol-based four-piece THE EVIL USSES. With their combination of discordant guitars and saxophone played in off-kilter time signatures, they are instantly reminiscent of the no-wave/jazz fusion of John Lurie’s The Lounge Lizards. There is also the feel of the organised chaos of Sun Ra about them, as they seemingly stumble their way through numbers held together by their impeccable rhythm section. One thing about this kind of music is that it can often become dull and slightly gimmicky, but there are no such qualms here, as each new song takes the audience in a freshly skewed direction. This is definitely a case of the perfect band in the perfect setting, and many people are left standing around after they’ve finished wondering why this is the first time they’ve heard The Evil Usses.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne is not a place generally known for its free-jazz exports but headline act TAUPE are looking to change that. They differ from the previous act in that they embody a more traditional jazz sound with drums, bass guitar and saxophone their instruments of choice. Once again the drumming is remarkable and enthralling to watch, whilst the bass jumps between frets without missing a beat and generally provides a spine on which the erratic saxophone can stand. At first it is all very impressive and probably not the kind of performance that most of those present are used to witnessing. However, as the set progresses the majority of the audience start to lose interest and, after several songs, the conversational noise is almost drowning out elements of the music. This is, of course, the nature of gigs in the relaxed surrounds of the Kaz Garden and it is not necessarily a reflection on the performers. But there is the feeling that, for those not really intimately acquainted with free jazz, Taupe serve as better background music for a night out than as an act to truly pay attention to.
However, it is hard not to think that perhaps the acts should have been the other way around on the bill, as the night seemed to peak early and was then always destined for a fall. That aside, it is a great show and for those who have seen similar acts before there is no denying that these guys are doing big things.