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DON CABALLERO + VESSELS – Brudenell Social Club, 11th Nov 08

Posted: November 13th, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

After an absolute travesty of a latest album (I can’t even say it…) Punkgasm, yes, Punkgasm, Don Caballero return as an even more cannibalised cover band of their original 1990s heyday. Until the turn of the millenium, Don Cab produced exciting and challenging instrumental rock unheard of before, inventing, whether they liked it or not, the genre now dubiously labelled ‘math-rock’.

It all went rather fishy in 2003. After the group supposedly ‘disbanded’, drummer Damon Che surprised fans by resurrecting a faux-Don Cab with the muppet members of one of their many imitation bands, Creta Bourzia. World Class Listening Problem was the resulting album – a decent effort but a portent of the disaster to come. The problem that Don Caballero now find themselves in is they’re imitating their previous style: Don Cab are trying to sound like Don Cab.

Terrific support comes in the form of Leeds-based four-piece Vessels. They start off with a good strain of Tortoise running through: revolving riffs matched with pleasant guitar chimes, like a plane running buoyantly close to the horizon. There’s a great deal of instrument-swapping going on, and it just escapes from being gratuitous. Two drummers (when it’s done) can often sound a bit crap, or doesn’t sound like two drummers at all. Vessels have the initiative enough to employ an interesting dialogue and switching patterns, with nicely scattered snare hits.

It would be easy for a band playing music of such a moody nature to mope around the stage, po-faced. Yet, anticipating the most Granny Comment of the review, it’s always nice seeing a band SMILE! In other words they’re not pretending to perform music straight from the gods. Lovely chaps.

Well we’ve had our thrills for the night because a decidedly solemn Don Cab has decided to rip through three godawful songs off the new album (it’s seriously called Punkgasm). Damon Che used to be one of the most interesting and skilful drummers around, but his performance seems filtered down into a toned-down, digestible version of his previous work.

Unfortunately Don Cabarubbish (see what I did there!) can’t even play their old songs with conviction. It all sounds hollow and contained – they were at least skilful to pull it off two years ago at the London Scala but this is just abysmal. There’s not the slightest bit of interaction between the musicians – it seems pretty clear that Che hates his bandmates. I don’t blame him. It’s by the time I have Che’s big sweaty, hairy manboob flapping in my field of vision I realise Don Cab have reached embarrassing lows – they really aren’t worth the effort any more.


Don Caballero

Don Fanallero – great fansite

Pascal Ansell

Pascal Ansell

Pascal is a fearsome, hungry giant trapped in the body of a hyperactive boy. On a mission to waste no more than 14 seconds per day, he bounds from activity to activity like a deer being chased by a cheetah. Follow him now, as in ten year's time he'll be a leading voice in something or other. He's also writing down every word you say in a small book so watch out!


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