François R. Cambuzat (guitar, voice)
Gianna Greco (bass, voice)
Hangar is a black space. A big space, but a black space. Lit by less than a handful of powerful spots, hurling angular shadows to the ceiling, 50 feet above our heads (that’s about 15 metres, metric fans). It’s the perfect venue for a little, well, what to call it? Drone? Industrial? Postpunk? Avantpunk? Doom? Aggressive-ambient-rock? Whatever the label, it’s definitely great noise and the pre-gig music is suitably thorax-throbbing with lead-heavy beats, terrifying vocal chants, and lobotomising guitars. Under which soundtrack we chat (take turns yelling) with the organiser at the Magia Roja table; we walk away laden with CDs, information and beer – definitely not the worst conversation I’ve ever had.
Putan Club take advantage of the absence of a stage and have their mics and guitars set up at opposite ends of the space. With wireless connections to the sound system, this allows them to prowl the floor, eyeballing the unwary, while they pummel us with a sound that can’t possibly be coming from just two instruments and a few programmed drums, can it? Clearly it can. And striding among the audience, Greco give us post-Birthday Party swagger and some of the heaviest bass since Lemmy, while Cambuzat shouts politicised lyrics and sweats buckets, while spraying us with sharp Telecaster riffing that threatens to lift you off the ground (or at the very least, severely damage your liver).
Then, disaster. The PA fails. Clearly annoyed but certainly unfazed, Cambuzat goes acoustic, grabbing a guitar, a chair, and playing some raw flamenco, of all things. As the sound crew scurry and set up a replacement PA, people gather round, clap the rhythms and generally enjoy the diametric change of mood. It’s a spontaneous and very professional moment, but then this is a duo with 900+ gigs in their collective hip pocket, so I guess they’ve seen it all before. But soon, the ‘punk’ is back – occasionally supplemented by electronic effects and samples but in the main it’s all broken glass vocals, hardcore guitars and no compromise.
Time falls away and there’s a sense of immersion in sound and attitude to which you can do nothing but submit. However, it does mean that it’s something of a surprise when it’s all over and Cambuzat makes a short but impassioned speech with an anti-capitalist theme emphasising that Putan Club do what they do without media attention or focus, just hard work, relentless touring, and grass-roots support. This is ‘traditional’ punk spirit, with the political running right through it.
It wasn’t jazz, but it was noise and I don’t need them to always come as a matched set.