TRIGGER DISCIPLINE + POLITE BUREAU + BABY HAIR – PRINCE ALBERT, BRIGHTON 19.9.23
American band Trigger Discipline end a short run of UK dates at The Prince Albert in Brighton tonight. Promoters Love Thy Neighbour have put together a most interesting supporting line-up as we will discover.
Opening act Baby Hair (stylized as BABY HAIR) are more of a performance art duo rather than a band. Their set is made up of performance pieces rather than songs per se. The opening piece Baby Hair features one of the duo playing a drum, whilst the other plays xylophone.
They chant the band’s name over and over again, which sounds agreeably insane. One of the audience asks: “what are they called again?” Their voices sound childishly satanic, and remind me of the children’s voices in the film ‘Village Of The Damned’.
A lot of their music is on their laptop, but that doesn’t matter as the emphasis is on their performance rather than their actual playing. The music is simultaneously gently hypnotic and somehow disturbing. It’s like the soundtrack to a somewhat unsettling dream. I should emphasise that this is very much performance art.
During one piece the two band members make very little contribution to the music, as they dance instead. However, on another they do play recorders and violins. One of them plays what is very clearly a child’s violin, and at one point they launch into a flurry of childlike abandon.
In what is possibly the ultimate demonstration of teamwork, they play one triangle together! The set finishes with them throwing feathers into the air. This is one of the most interesting performances that I’ve seen for a while, but what does it all mean, I hear you ask? I suspect that meaning is down to the perception of the individual audience members.
Check out Baby Hair material at babyhairbabyhairbabyhair.bandcamp.com.
Next up are Polite Bureaux, for whom I have received multiple recommendations, well deserved as it turns out. Live they sound nowhere near as electro as they do on their records. There is far less on their laptop than I was expecting. Whilst there are beats on the backing track, their stand up drummer Leon Bounds is driving the music, and his playing overshadows what is emanating from the laptop.
He has possibly the world’s simplest drumkit: one tom, one cymbal and a snare. Whilst he doesn’t do it on every song, for much of the set Joe Smith plays a six-string bass. He’s very much a lead bassist, and much of what he plays is very redolent of Peter Hook. Yep, he really is that good. Having said that, regular bassist Viv Maher is no slouch herself, playing some really interesting stuff throughout.
The lyrics of the songs contain a great deal of commentary on real life. Polite Bureaux don’t do sugar coating. ‘Squatadvisor’ being a prime example. In contrast to Joe Smith’s UK rap-like delivery, synth player Maya Lili has a really sweet and pure singing voice.
Whilst I’ve seen their music described as ‘indie-dance’, with the songs’ lyrical content and the ferocity of songs such as ‘Bodyrocker’, their music could equally be classed as punk. I can just see them at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. See for yourselves: they play at Brighton WaterBear on 22nd September. If you haven’t seen them before – treat yourselves!
Polite Bureaux setlist:
2. ‘I Really Did’
3. ‘A Fairy Tale’
4. ‘Taylor Mift’
6. ‘U A Melon’
7. ‘Does It Stink Like’
Trigger Discipline are from the Bridgewater Triangle area of Massachusetts, USA. The area is described as “infamous”, and is the site of numerous claims of paranormal activity ranging from poltergeists to UFOs. I get the impression that it would be very difficult to live there and not be at least subconsciously affected by these claimed occurrences.
The band comprise Alyssa Gallagher on vocals and saxophone, and Jae Yahkel Estes on guitar and synthesiser. Alyssa’s sax playing is bewilderingly jazzy, and it’s no surprise to learn that she is academically qualified as a sax player. She had never sung before joining the band, which really is a surprise. Jae’s guitar playing is also quite astonishing, as he’s one of those guitarists who aims to make guitars not sound like guitars. He unleashes squalls of sound that My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields would be proud of. Thankfully they’re not quite so eardrum shattering. You what???
At the beginning of the set, the band and audience are cloaked in dry ice. It’s beyond atmospheric. It does eventually clear though. The music is goth with an unsurprising hint of the Sisters Of Mercy. Although later in the set ‘Babble Babble Babble’ is very much goth pop. They do have undeniable pop sensibilities. However, I am somewhat surprised when they cover Bananarama’s ‘Cruel Summer’!
Alyssa comes across as being quite an intimidating frontwoman. When she jumps into the audience I have no hesitation in getting out of her way! Unfortunately the venue is nowhere near full, but this gives Alyssa the opportunity to cavort around on the floor. Now I understand why she’s wearing knee pads! She remains in character as she returns to the stage, as if she’s possessed. She is quite a visceral performer.
However, when she addresses the audience (and when I meet her after the show) she’s really sweet! Whilst there is undeniably quite a lot on the laptop, what the band creates live more than eclipses it. They are two very skilled musicians.
Unfortunately Trigger Discipline have no more UK dates booked. However, they do have an album out called ‘American Gothicc’, which is a good alternative to seeing them live. Hopefully they’ll be back in the UK soon.
Find out more about Trigger Discipline at americangothicc.com.