If there was ever a band to keep an eye on in 2006, then OFFICER KICKS is certainly one of them. Who else would chose to have their last gig of 2005 in a Russian Working Men's Club buried somewhere in darkest recesses of East London?
The venue itself was totally surreal. Ok, so no Kalashnikovs, but still. I wandered beyond the trendy Shoreditch area, out into some industrial wasteland looking for the elusive venue. The entrance was a small door that lead into a corridor, paved with clinical white tiles and lit by flickering fluorescent bulbs. Jamie Scallion (vocals) later told me he initially thought it was "so they could mop the blood up easily".
The corridor lead down to a cavernous hall full of Eastern European
hard-faced characters and snooker tables, and then further underground into a tiny Phoenix-nights-esque bar, complete with floor lighting, strobe lights, and plenty of Cossack dancing. By this point I was a bit on the overwhelmed side, and was on the verge of calling my parents to tell them how much I loved them just in case something unfortunate happened.
My fears were (obviously) totally unfounded. The Blackpool-based support band, SUPER STREAM, were nothing short of superb. Never before have I seen a hard rock version of Cliff Richard's "Mistletoe and Wine", sung in a Led Zeppelin stylee, with as much conviction as Robert Plant. Laugh? I nearly died.
Officer Kicks then took to the arena, and proceeded to throw a filthy, earthy, downright dirty bundle of gritty rock in our general direction.
Jamie Scallion strutted across the dance floor, swinging his microphone like a lasso, shouting out his in-your-face vocals that came across like a punch to the head. Jamie Fisher (guitarist) thrashed his instrument in a state of controlled chaos, churning out agitated guitar riffs that sounded close to breaking point. The band wound up and up like a dynamo, their sound gradually becoming more fiercer as the set progressed. There were no synths, no flowery vocals, just guitars, drums, screaming vocals, and of course great tunes - which made the effect all the more potent.
And let's not forget the disco dancing action from the audience. Officer Kicks had the whole venue banging. Scallion was leaping around the stage, on the dance floor, and jumping off the amps. Their evident good humour was totally infectious and everyone got completely into the spirit of things. A veritable performance all round methinks.
Officer Kicks are far cry from the angular sharp-edged pop being touted around at the moment, preferring to embrace the stripped down rock n roll ethic which makes a refreshing change: more comparable to the Kings of Leon than Franz Ferdinand.
This band, formerly known as MOGUL for those who might have heard of them, have undergone a radical transformation this year; having changed their name and developed their style to produce a sound that is still accessible, but they have stayed true to their roots, which is admirable.
They have just completed 2 weeks recording their debut album with producer Jan Stan Kybert (who has also worked with Bjork, Massive attack, and Paul Weller), which should, hopefully, be released early 2006.
Keep an eye on these geezers and watch this space.