Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gig review: The United Sons Of Toil, Joe 4, The Schtrebers

Despite the utter fatigue that I feel this morning due to lack of sleep, I decided I want to write this review while still under extreme impressions from last night's gig. All six hours (yes, six) which were somehow connected to the concert in my case were full of various happenings, ups and downs, so I recon it is best to write about all that while everything is still fresh. But first gotta grab a cup of tea, this is gonna be long.

The show was held yesterday, 2 July 2011, in a place called "Bigz". It is worth mentioning that the place is not actually a venue or not just a venue, if you please. "Bigz" is a well known printing factory hailing from the Yugoslavian era, a gigantic building which, although still somewhat operational, is crumbling and could very well be a setting for a horror movie. Dead halls connected with dark corridors, obscure writings on the walls and sealed doors greet you as you pass through the structure. As I said, part of it is still a printing plant and a place for some small production shops and things, but there is also a part dedicated to music. There are several studios and rooms suitable for shows, so in one such room the gig was held in. When I say "room" I literally mean that, since the "venue" was not larger than the room from which I am writing this. Basically, the place looks like a living room, with even two big chairs and a coffee table in one corner, windows on one side which give the view of Belgrade's skyline, some interesting artwork on one other wall and of course, the most important thing, no stage.
Yes, I know, everything sounds cool, fine and dandy, but it is far from the truth. The first and most irritating thing is actually the person (or persons) responsible for organizing this gig. This show was not advertised anywhere and if it weren't for my correspondence with Russel and Josip, the dudes from "TUSOT" and "Joe 4" respectively, I wouldn't even know the time of the gig, much less the fact that there will be a gig at all. It seems that the gig was just spread over to friends of those who organized it which is quite pointless (read: STUPID) and I can only hope that my creation of this event over on and my writings on this blog managed to attract some additional people as well. So anyways, I was told that the gig might start at 10 PM, thus me and a friend decided to get together at around nine something. Needless to say, so began a long streak of fails for us that night, since public transport continues to be a pain in the side and I was brutally late. I was bitching a lot about that, since I was eager to catch the whole show, yet eventually through some unknown forces we managed to get almost in time. But hey, why let things go so smooth, right? I already mentioned that "Bigz" was a huge complex and in fact I never went to gigs there, so my friend led the way. We went up to the eight floor, peaked inside what looks like a cafe and saw drums and other instruments on the ground. Victory for us, so we rushed inside. The place looked wicked good, since it was in fact a terrace under an open sky and the two of us were literally drooling from happiness that it will be an open air gig. So we ordered some drinks, chilled out, enjoyed ourselves....until 11 PM when the first band got up on "stage". "What the fuck, I didn't hear a saxophone in the recordings when I was reviewing the two bands we came to see." Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we missed the venue and actually attended some jam session thing with some local bands, gasp! We were both laughing and bitching at the same time, so we ran outside and started looking for the right place. Luckily, we ended up on the sixth floor where the real gig is going to happen and, again luckily, it still hasn't started.
Although I was happy that things are late, later it became a bit irritating, since the wait prolonged itself until almost past midnight. So long in fact, that we had the time go down stairs, get back up and later greet a newly arrived friend. In any case, once the gig actually began, a local band took the stage. Yes, there was even local support, which of course we didn't know about thanks to our competent organizer. In fact I didn't even catch the name of the band, thus the dots in the title of this review. The good thing in the sea of irritation was that the band actually blew me away. The instrumental noisy rock trio provided an amazing half an hour performance, their tunes just rushing through the venue. I find it really hard to write about their songs, since I didn't listen to them before and the things that I heard last night are vaguely in my memory since I was watching and listening with pure amazement. The tunes were extremely fast and melodic, a superb mix of flowing riffs and thundering crescendos which are switching under the spotlight in turns. At times when I listen to instrumental projects I consider that some of them could actually benefit with an addition of the vocals, but this band just stands strong without that, that being a very strong merit in my mind. Definitely a great performance and I hope I get to see this band again and actually talk to some of the members, which I failed to do last night.

EDIT: The band is called "The Schtrebers" and you can check them out on their facebook page here.

After a small break, "Joe 4" kicked off, "Pigman" ripping through the previous murmur of the audience which filled the venue. I was amazed at how the sound was actually clean in the gig space and how much their tunes held even more energy and aggression than on the recordings. Part of that energy and enthusiasm was radiated from the band members themselves, especially the guitarist/vocalist who was moving around constantly. But sadly, the shit had to hit the fan. First, the microphones didn't work properly and throughout their performance "Joe 4" literally didn't have a mic. Josip was doing his best to try and pull out the much needed force to get heard, but to no avail. You could see the frustration on the faces of the members and I felt really sorry for the shitty equipment they were given. The amazing thing however was that while "Neuro", "Postman" and "Johnny" shook the room, I realized how stunning they sound, despite lacking the vocal which is definitely an important part of this band. Despite the technical difficulties, "Joe 4" managed to provide a devastatingly strong punch to the ears and every millisecond of it was completely enjoyable. That start-stop behemoth which is present in their tunes is really unleashed when you witness them play live and it just stomps at you without remorse. The power and impact their recordings had on me were increased a tenfold during their live performance and it is a pity that the crowd was not able to experience the entire band as it should. I was really looking forward to screaming some of their lyrics, but at least my throat was saved this way. When the dust around the microphone trouble settled, the bass player started having problems with the amplifier, if I understood correctly, so their performance was cut short and ended without a warning.
Again there was a pause while "The United Sons Of Toil" set up their gear and while they were getting everything ready I really feared that they might as well be sabotaged, much like "Joe 4" was. Luckily, they weren't and generally their part of the gig went smooth. The microphone level could have been a bit higher in my opinion, but anything is better than the troubles shown in the previous performance. In any case, like "Joe 4", "TUSOT" completely blew me away with everything they threw at the audience. Exceptional sound, visually energetic, radiating passion and simply crunching you with the sheer amount of noise they produce. The band slammed the crowd with songs such as "The Irish Problem", "State-Sponsored Terrorism" and of course the promised song "Sword of Damocles", which chewed its way into my heart even further. It was amazing how this song isn't the only one that stood out from the rest, but much rather the entire performance was outstanding and quite an impressive sight to behold. The pauses between songs were almost nonexistent, so their act just flowed over the crowd as one giant song. This nonstop playing was so amazing to witness as the band just kept rending and beating their instruments. Their act lasted for a good half an hour, maybe even a bit more, and it all ended around 2 AM.
Being both impressed and somewhat saddened with everything I saw and heard, I approached Russel and Josip to say hi and chat a bit, moments later being introduced to the rest of "TUSOT" as well, the dudes being probably the friendliest bunch of people I met in quite a while. Now, I usually don't like ranting about negative shit, but while talking to Josip I realized some additional troubles concerning the whole gig and organization and it pissed me off so much that I really can't hold my breath about it. I stood there and felt completely ashamed of being part of this so called "diy" scene in Belgrade. I won't go into detail about all of that, but it seems to me that some people here still have much to learn about what it means to "do it yourself". I would much rather not have a band play in my town than have them come and be treated like shit. You people need to get it into your head that it is not about glory points and being cool, much rather devote your time to it and do it fucking right. If these bands can put their hearts, energy and resources into what they do then the least you can do is make that one fucking day they spend as your guests an enjoyable and memorable one. These are not some superstars or whatever, this is all friendship and if you treat your friends this way as well you are a damn idiot.
All in all, maybe this review is not the peak of my writing and I'm sorry if this is the case, but the bottom line is that I have nothing but praise for the three bands last night. I'd like to thank "Joe 4" and "The United Sons Of Toil" with all my heart for coming here and providing us with a show to remember. I only hope that they had a great time as well and that one day they will come again under some better circumstances. THANK YOU!

Oh and by the way, if a girl with curly hair from last night is reading this, drop a line, one of my friends is eager to talk to you :D And of course, special cheers to my other friend who stated that this was her best night out, despite moaning occasionally about having to walk XY kilometers so that we could get back home :)


  1. Thanks Stefan. It was awesome to meet you. Thank you for your kind words.

    The United Sons of Toil

  2. Couldn't agree more!
    svirka je bila super iako je organizacija bila poprilicno shit. da nisam slucajno na njihovom sajtu vido datume za turneju ne bih ni znao da dolaze. ni na jednom nasem sajtu nisam video najavu. bilo kako bilo, nastup je pokidao:)