x3Smart to forget your earplugs once in a while. Not medically perhaps, but sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of music’s ability to crush and overwhelm you, filling ugly, gawping venues with dense air. Islet start with keyboard low end that boxes your ears, add bass and wailing, flailing weirdly in the direction of Oneida crossed with Wild Beasts. They have more up their sleeves than volume though: Islet’s set jinks through several layers of instrument swapping, double drumming, screaming and ends on some mutant autistic disco bass jam. Emma (ex-VEG Club), Mark (Attack & Defend/Crimesss) and, um, some bloke’s new band are scabrous and brilliant. Battered eardrums say ‘YEAH’.

The grin doesn’t shift for the rest of the night. The Lovely Eggs are so impossible to dislike they could stab all your pets with your Slint records and it still wouldn’t get rid of that soppy smile. A knobbly faced male/female drum/guitar duo, singing songs about dinosaurs and fruit, channeling Morwenna Banks’s little girl character from Absolutely (Holly RossĀ even says “It’s true!” at one point)… ingredients to make uptight male musos barf but I lap them up. A song that rhymes ‘digital accordian’ with ‘Richard Braugtigan’. A drumstick, painstakingly wrapped in string, that explodes on first contact, covering the kit. So happy onstage. Too huggable by half.

Shonen Knife have been going so long my cassette copies of their albums are now MIA. A possibly vampyric policy has left Naoko Yamana the only original member: presumably the job spec for new young pups includes obsessive Ramones love and benign smileyness. Staus Quo-style synchronised guitar nodding helps too: basically Team Knife bring the sugared garage pop and keep it rolling all night. Cutesily perfect two minute cherry bombs that arrive from old sources (Ramones, Buzzcocks) yet somehow remain timeless and kitten fresh. New stuff equals old stuff equals greatness. Their addictive conveyor belt even inspires some embarrassingly repressed homoerotic shovefest in the pit. Boistrous! Shonen Knife crush the dickless and joyous alike.

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