Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro, Manière des Bohémiens
(Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, Thursday 9th July)
Most of the best gigs I’ve seen have not been proper metal ones. Sure, Roadburn was a ton of dirty fun. Alice in Chains were excellent, and Iron Maiden weren’t too shabby when I saw them, either. But none of these concerts are among my proper mind-blown favourites. In descending order, I shall now list them.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion came out on stage at the Manchester Academy in like 2002, and started playing. Two hours of utterly incredible noise later, they stopped, with barely a pause in between. They threw themselves into the music so hard, Manchester Royal Infirmary A&E were on alert for the duration. Or there’s A, who I saw in 1999 or so. I’m not sure they were ever really very good, but they exuberated such power that Leeds Cockpit turned into a fucking sauna. The place was actually raining sweat by the end, and our clothes were steaming as we poured out into the wintry air, our ears damaged forever. We knew we had been to see a fucking show.
Then there’s this gig.
For all their intensity and volume, I can’t think of many metal concerts I’ve seen where some ineluctable energy just constantly crackles off the stage like ball lightning, without a lull or a boring bit. That’s a skill Quantic has got.
So have Nottingham-based gypsy jazz children Manière des Bohémiens, filling out the bill. As depressing as it is for a man of my advanced years to see toddlers busting violin and guitar licks that would have smudged Django Reinhardt’s eyebrow-pencil moustache right off his wobbling Belgian lip, you have to give them credit. In my opinion, they should be bigger than Gogol Bordello, who are annoyingly trendy, and seem to me to be some kind of giant, ironic, Borat-style contrivance for idiots. Check out Manière des Bohémiens instead. They’re better, and as a bonus, far more obscure and, thus, far more impressive.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Will Holland, aka Quantic, because his records have never really grabbed me. They seem a bit too polished, somehow, for the kind of low-fi jazz-funk he seems to be going for, and I can never think of a reason to reach for his stuff over say, The Brothers Johnson or Graham Central Station or David Axelrod or whoever.
On stage, though, we could see like, jams. Then along came Quantic sporting a size twelve soccer clog, and he like, booted them right the fuck out, all the way to the back of the hall. It was actually proper brill, unlike this metaphor.
I don’t know any of the songs he and his combo played, and it’s hard to pin down the exact style of his sound, an almalgamatised mélange of all sorts of latin influences. Odd bits of mambo, conga, salsa and bugalú showed up over the course of a two-hour show that never failed to captivate. It reminds me most of a hip-hop free Ozomatli, in that the seams in the patchwork are indistinguishable. In the round, though, it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
I have reserved all of my most special props, however (the ones I use to hold up the line on which I dry my ‘special’ nature photographs) for conga-player Freddy Colorado, whose 10,000 watt grin probably had more to do with the incredible level of heat in the room than the dancing. At one point, he hopped down off the stage to lead a conga line up the room and back down again, grinning like a buffoon the entire time. Fucking excellent.
Wandering out in the end, all clammy as fuck, the only thing I could really think about was the other comparable gigs I’ve seen, and it was a rarefied list indeed. Thanks to Quantic and the Boho Men, once again, I knew I had seen a fucking show.