Friday, 4 September 2015

A Tale of Two Bands: The Moonlandingz @ The Picture House Social, Sheffield 29/08/2015

The Moonlandingz are a “cosmic synth, krautobilly” band from Valhalla Dale, just outside Sheffield and headed by narcissistic frontman Johnny Rocket.

Or at least that is who they were, as depicted on The Eccentronic Research Council’s recent record Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine… I’m Your Biggest Fan. The album, featuring, and narrated by actress Maxine Peake, documents the tale of J Rockets’ stalker.

Though originating as a fictional band The Moonlandingz, are, in reality a 6 piece consisting of members of The Eccentronic Research Council and Fat White Family.

This weekend they returned to The Picture House Social, having filmed a recent video for Sweet Saturn Mine (Sean Lennon De-Mix) here a few months prior. Despite the credentials of the individual collaborators, it is fair to say it’s impressive that they have sold out all of their gigs on this short tour across the north of England and in London.

Despite being in the room awaiting the presence of the band there was something surreal about the whole affair and an expectation of something great. The atmosphere was electric and kicked off in kind as soon the band exploded onto the stage with opener, Sweet Saturn Mine.

Throughout the show there was an element of mystery and delirious abandon which had clearly set in. Which Moonlandingz exactly were we watching? Are they “The” Moonlandingz or are they The Moonlandingz. Quite frankly I don’t care. The fact that there was such enjoyable confusion was sufficiently unique.

There is time to ponder, as clearly there are plans afoot for continued activity. After Psych Ersatz,  a number of new tracks (aka. Not featured on the mini EP) were included in the set.

Forty Thousand Years had a krauty groove and explosive attitude.  Whereas the succeeding Dirt Red Rose conjured a sort of carnival meets Cash somewhere on a dark Yorkshire road sound. An odd concoction of dizzying country psych.

Constantly hearing both Fat Whites and ERC influences, one got the feeling there was an element of conflict and tension causing the band to burn bright. Another new one Black Hans was cosmic but not spacey. Frenzied and yet somewhat restrained. Everything just bubbling beneath the surface with total assuredness of forthcoming implosion.

Slowling the pace, Lay Your Head Down on the Road returned to a more familiar landscape for those approaching from an ERC narrative. More embedded within the story presented on Johnny Rocket. Oddly however, it felt almost obligatory and disjointed. Were The Moonlandings pretending to be The Moonlandingz?

Final track Man in Me Lyf saw a total blast of into the cosmos causing apparent loss of motor functions in many in attendance; total abandon. And then they were gone.

Taken slightly aback by the full on assault of music and the audience alike (the latter caused me to spill gin all over my face) I was left somewhat reeling physically, whilst my internal monologue was still pondering whether or not I had indeed just been to see a real or imaginary band. This reflected dualism of identity, or relational dissonance as I tried to describe it at the time, was part of the excitement.

Sure we were all physically present. But somewhere within that ineffable space between the physical reality, Johnny Rocket was breaking through from the beyond to reclaim his rightful place on the stage (spoiler, he dies).

(Note: It may (or may not) be revealing that if you misspell the Moonlandingz, Google wants to tell you they are a hoax. Bear it in mind).


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