Despite it occupying a legendary place in the fabric of modern live music and an outsized importance within my own music taste I’d not actually been to the Brixton Windmill until now. Sort of like a post-punk incubator, the golden streamers and be-stickered walls have played host to the genesis of dozens of the grimiest new guitar bands and cutting their teeth on this occasion was Edinburgh four-piece Cheap Teeth. You know you’re in the right place if Steve Lamacq is standing behind you.
Supporting was Average Life Complaints, a band confidently, proficiently and completely inhabiting the Windmill’s exclusive aesthetic. They looked good with the streamers glinting behind them, and sounded just as good with their inventive use of vocal effects and drum pads melded with some truly cavernous guitar reverbs and a drummer locked in tighter than 1.5 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels. The frontman’s instrumental choices varied through the set – ranging from none to a guitar to a tambourine with a side order of cowbell. Singles ‘Wealth Gap’ and ‘Precious Pressure’ went off, but not quite so much as the cut that closes with the barked mantra ‘live laugh love’. A rough way to distill their vibe would be to cross Damefrisør with Peeping Drexels and Threads and then add a touch of Squid special sauce. Very enjoyable.
My recollection of Cheap Teeth is disjointed. Their opening salvo was ‘Ageless’ and its wrath and gnashing of (cheap) teeth appropriately set the tone for the oncoming forty minutes or so. This was quickly followed by ‘Animal Fat’ – a towering sonic onslaught of a banger and one that presented an emergent vocational objective for this author. I had deposited myself right at the front of the sold out audience and the crowd behind me was desperately unruly, incited to no end by the already very sweaty state of the union, and with each successive advance of the agitated human mass the wedges conveying the band’s monitor mix inched ever forward. They teetered on their foundations, threatening to devastate the band’s feet and pedals Possessed with apocalyptic visions of such, I unthinkingly volunteered to brace the wedges – one hand on the handle, one foot on the stage. This, unfortunately, was a role I then had to occupy for the rest of the set. I had my work cut out for me as the Teeth transitioned into ‘I Am The Mud’ – a delightfully grubby chugger that served to further galvanise the mass behind me. My dancing avenues were limited, given the job I had given myself. Consequently the hair came down and the neck went loose. It was amid such gyration that the band ran down their home stretch and closed with unreleased track ‘Maureen’s’, a furtive and *cough* angular construction studded with tempo changes and dripping with sleaze. Glistening with perspiration in a way that seemed to challenge the frontman’s dangling mic stand sweat rag, Cheap Teeth were done. They’re on tour in March and you should get involved.
Words: Ed Hambly // Photos: Jack Menzies