- Mermaid Chunky
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On the back of their new album Forest Of Your Problems, arty post-rockers SNAPPED ANKLES hit District for a night of experimental visual and sonic offerings. As the minutes draw near to the start of the show, the little venue gets ever more crowded, only hinting at the visceral energy and movement to come.
The evening’s emphasis on compositional experimentation is established immediately as two-piece MERMAID CHUNKY enter the stage with their flowery costumes. What starts thinly as a simple vocal melody, eventually becomes a soaring and dense experience, layered with steadily added loops throughout the progression of each piece. The first thin layer guides the piece, however, which is soon to be adorned with layers of synths, glossy piano chords, and many vocal harmonies. This live approach to composition allows for many colours and emotional drives behind the music; some moments are dreamy, some are groovy, and some are downright bizarre. The addition of folkloric recorder on King of the Herbs, adds a landscape vision to the music which certainly captures the audience’s imagination. The consistent dynamic switches throughout Mermaid Chunky’s set elevate the music to a progressive and avant-garde plane, which leaves the audience both astonished and perplexed. Either way, the arresting visuals and sonic experimentation more than lay the groundwork for Snapped Ankles to take the stage.
In stark contrast to Mermaid Chunky’s dynamically shifting and genre-spanning set, Snapped Ankles make their intentions clear straight off the bat with Rhythm Is Our Business; immediately earmarking the angular bass lines and rigidly consistent grooves. In true post-punk style, these grooves inspire the movement and mosh pits throughout the mobile crowd, but with the addition of the carefully considered visuals the band has crafted for itself.
From the projections of urban landscapes and natural woodlands, to their forest-like ghillie suits, Snapped Ankles seamlessly blend a primitive and meditative aesthetic with a whimsical and unrelentingly mobile setlist. This establishes a nice juxtaposition that presents the act of seeing a highly animated show as a necessary and cathartic release of energy, which ought to feel as natural as the primitive and urban landscapes projected behind the band.
With the absence of guitars, the use of synths act as a colouring effect throughout the otherwise raw instrumentation, creating a dream-like sensation which serves as the main link between the contrasting audio-visual experience. This is only added to by the murky coloured lighting through which we squint to see the forest-like figures.
What either gives or takes from this mystery (I’m not so sure), are the occasional breakings of the fourth wall, as the lead vocalist with his staff-like microphone stand joins his entranced audience. As myself, and other audience members gather round him, the artist and audience connection is both thrilling and playful, that’s until it looks like he’s handing the microphone around to spectators to sing, so I do what any self-respecting post-punk amateur would do; I run away.
The unrelenting rhythmic pull of Snapped Ankles and the support present a consistent theme throughout the evening, seamlessly blending intense rhythmic and timbral experiences with colourful, entrancing and arresting imagery. Most of these projected images serve to compliment the liberating release of visceral energy and movement saved up for a Friday evening, making it as ordinary as the projected urban landscapes we occupy in our everyday mundane lives.