Club Smalltown America : Winnebago Deal, Lafaro

You turn up to watch LaFaro expecting a certain number of things. It’s going to be loud – tonight it’s deafening. Herb Magee will make an off-colour joke – tonight’s contribution is a variety of movie/porn crossover titles including Jurassic Pork and the family-friendly Schindler’s Fist. And Jonny Black will probably be wearing that old Pixies t-shirt that’s now more grey than black. Check on that one as well. Of course, what you also expect is that they will melt face and they do that too, with a short-ish set that features mostly familiar songs. "Tupenny Nudger" is like an old friend at this point, while the opening ‘Leningrad’ has a riff Josh Homme would be proud of, and it’s rarely sounded better. They throw in a couple of newies, too – "The Girl Is A Drummer" has an absolute monster of an anthemic chorus – but the closer is the oldest song of the lot, the still-unreleased "Climate", which must be at least four years old by now. Still sounds great though – it’s an awkward beast with more twists and turns than a bowl of spaghetti, and built on a nasty, churning drum pattern from the bare-chested Alan Lynn. The long-awaited debut album is in the can and, by all accounts, a total belter. It would have been nice to hear more from it though. Another of Herb Magee’s pronouncements from the stage is that Oxford duo Winnebago Deal “rock like fuck”. He’s right, up to a point, but they’re underwhelming headliners. Like LaFaro, they play at jet-engine volume, all of that cheek-billowing noise emanating from just one guitar, drums and the quite alarming holler of Ben Perrier (insert your own ‘just the tonic’ type pun if you must). It’s bracing and Perrier is a whirlwind of energy, but after the downtuned, four-man wrecking ball of LaFaro, it feels a little slight. It doesn’t help that they play for so bloody long as well – 45 minutes by our reckoning, when 30 would do. No-one needs to hear 10 variations on what is essentially the same breakneck-paced riff-rock song. It’s a nice trick, now do something else. Oh, they do. They finish with a wickedly slow stoner-rock epic that has the glasses rattling and my feet vibrating, and it’s by far the most interesting they’ve been all night. Bravo.

- Chris Jones, Alternative Ulster