Having never been to the St Mortiz club, I’m slightly taken aback by just how small it is: a cosy, beamed, ski-shack kind of a vibe with possibly the tiniest stage I’ve ever seen. It probably also seems even smaller because of the number of people that are in attendance, all crammed in to see one of the most interesting and unique new bands around: SLUG.
Taking to the stage a little after 11pm, all smartly clad in bow ties, SLUG look poised to deliver an impressive set. Barely into their first chord, the vague murmur of some people’s general chatter continues – not generally a problem at a gig when all band members have their own amp to blast out eccentric funk rock. However, this faint sound appears to rub a particular audience member up the wrong way, who then takes it upon herself to shout at the top of her voice: “It’s a gig, shut up! Sssshh!” Yes, it’s a gig – we’re all here to have a good time, relax and enjoy some loud music. We’re in a bar, to see a very much amplified rock band. So, to interrupt the set to shout angrily across the room seems rather unnecessary to say the least…
We’re here to see SLUG, who luckily don’t let this in-crowd tension affect them one bit. Blasting out their best known hit, ‘Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped In Plastic’, Ian Black and co. deliver their unique, raucous experimental rock with gusto. As pummelling beats race alongside Black’s speeding falsetto and discordant riffs, this heartily eccentric track sets the pace for the night.
“I’ve got a little something for yer” Ian Black announces in his lilting, North Eastern drawl, as SLUG thrash into another racing, funk-fused track. And it occurs to me that I have never before heard anything that is quite comparable to the sounds emulating from this miniscule stage right now. This collection of musicians seem to amalgamate pretty much every genre of music you can think of; as QOTSA-esque pulses thrash alongside syncopated jazz-inspired beats and bass-heavy rhythms, frantic, Calypso-reminiscent cowbell and bottle percussion twinkles and intricate harmonies flow. It’s utterly unique and incredibly enjoyable: a raucous slice of uptempo funk-filled goodness.
As if this isn’t enough, amid the incredible and eclectic musical delights, Black also appears to have a talent for witty banter; light-hearted heckles are met with “Yep, I’m from Sunderland like… I can’t help where me mam met me dad”, and so the band race into what is probably my highlight of the night, a song about someone with a ‘Greasy Mind’.
The fantastically uptempo vibe continues throughout the set: “So, you like dancing do yer? Well, this one’s the dancey one… Are you ready to fuckin’ dance man? Time for some bongo action!” Yes, there’s bongos too. SLUG have everything up on that tiny stage. It’s pretty special, and quite an honour to be in the company of such esteemed musicians – Ian Black and those infamous Brewis brothers. It’s not a night I’m going to forget in a hurry. And, just when I think it can’t get even more crazily wonderful, out comes a melodeon; a bit of traditional euro-folk to add to the already vast mix of styles we’re being treated to tonight.
“Time for our last song… Because, well, we don’t have any songs left” Black informs us. But, quality over quantity, that’s what I say. And, as the set draws to a close, we’re reassured that an album is on its way “very,very soon”. Phew. I can’t wait to hear more of these eccentric, eclectic and utterly sublime creations.