So many bands have come through London who I’ve seen before yet just can’t be bothered to go and see again… Perhaps due to lack of originality, atmosphere, or whatever else it is that usually fails to get the juices flowing…I rarely head out on a Tuesday night these days for those very reasons. But these guys though…It’s a gig I wouldn’t miss under any circumstance.
Having covered Rob Zombie at short notice in Kentish Town less than 24 hours earlier, my appetite for distortion had been amply whetted. Luckily I had tonight penned in for months.
Playing in Hipster Central, The Hyena Kill filled out the upstairs at Shoreditch’s Old Blue Last and headlined the evening as part of their UK tour to promote their debut album ‘Atomised’. Despite the gaggles of quirky fluorescent millennials roaming the pavements outside, the venue was occupied by a loyal London fanbase.
Managing to catch up with the band in the dressing room pre-show, we got talking about the recent album, new material which was later greeted by a raucously cheering crowd as well as discussing the tour thus far and the physical toll it’s taken on Steven.
Listening to him erupt into vocal warm up exercises with Lorna paradiddling away on the side of the sofa certainly reminded me why I was there. Not only are these guys the best at what they do; the fact that there are merely two of them making such a harmonious ruckus is astounding. Even without amplification these guys rock hard. It’s safe to say they make other two-piece rock acts like The Black Keys and The White Stripes seem like a trip to Disneyland in comparison.
After sharing a moment admiring the decorative scrawls and offensive doodles left by other bands, The Hyena Kill went to set up and within what seemed like only a handful of moments, they’d blasted through most of their album; 8 songs clocking in at about 35 minutes, leaving time for a couple of new tunes and some decent comedy. Far too many bands attempt to use humour as a crowd engagement tool and fail miserably but again, not these guys. Judging the crowd well, laughter rippled throughout as Steven discussed some poignant NSFW life observations.
Having realised I had forgot my earplugs again, there was no way on this earth that I was going to endure another week of tinnitus. Thankfully the venue had disposable pairs behind the bar and sent some my way…Whilst my ears were protected, my body was thoroughly battered from the sheer percussive force of the music. In the blue corner there’s Steven switching between a Fender Strat and a Gibson Les Paul, playing through an octave pedal and in the other blue corner, Lorna’s tight and technical ability rings out, flawlessly interchanging between differing time signatures and polyrhythms, leaving my body and mind in a state of euphoric confusion. Blissful tonality and rhythm, with sections reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog.
Despite the palpitating nature of some of the grooves, the crowd were familiar with every beat and lyric. With the audience and band feeding off of each other and keeping the energy rolling from the first song to the last, The Hyena Kill show no signs of complacency or deceleration in their career. Upon set completion, pretty much all the fans hung around to chat to and meet the band – always an endearing sight to see.
A final note… Whilst writing this, my 5 year old sister inquisitively asked who are the people in the pictures… I decided to show her The Hyena Kill’s video for ‘Still Sick’ and she went on to spend the next four and a half minutes headbanging and studying the video. Upon asking for her verdict, she winked at me and gave me a thumbs up, followed by a solid ‘good’. Since she’s here not letting me finish this review without her input, her message for The Hyena Kill is, ‘You are the best rock band in the world’.
The world needs more inspirational bands like The Hyena Kill… and more people like my little sister; fans with diverse enough tastes (she also loves Gangnam Style) and musicians with the exceptional technical ability and fan dedication required to smash through the commercial veneer of perpetually standardised music, hopefully saving this beloved industry from buckling to the commercial demons of modern life which inevitably render music void of inspiration.
Words and photography by Ed Jacobs