Yesterday evening Southsea welcomed one of the most experimental and innovative musicians on the planet, Thomas Truax to The Loft, a small, intimate space positioned just above The Kings Pub on Albert Road. The New York musician headlined the evening but was also joined by local bands and musicians Fake Empire, Mad King Ludwig and Desperate Beauty.
Portsmouth based multi-instrumentalist/visual artist Desperate Beauty opened the evening. Breaking a string on the first track didn’t mar the performance as he launched into the second, more punk-ier track which was probably the best of the whole set. Things picked up from here where he continued his set with a guitar kindly loaned to him by Fake Empire and played two more tracks including his latest single ‘Strategies’. Mad King Ludwig was up next, a self-confessed madman singing about everything from politics to religion and doing what makes you happy. His performance was full of acoustic, wit-filled rock n’ roll laden with funky, catchy riffs throughout.
Fake Empire were the only band I’d seen or even really listened to before who were playing on the night. After being so impressed by them live at Dials Festival in Southsea back in October, I just couldn’t miss them again. A few technical issues with the first track didn’t hold the band back. Playing post-punk music that doesn’t fit into a certain mould, the trio played their doom-laden tracks including live favourites ‘Original Skin’ and ‘I Heard You The First Time’.
With a unique, story-telling performance style alongside various self-made instruments, Thomas Truax set is bizarre and like nothing you’ll have ever seen before. His contraptions such as The Hornicator and Mother Superior form his band and he uses live loop-pedal techniques to build layers upon layers completing the set-up.
There was a clear first song curse that seemed to be taking hold on The Loft this evening that even Thomas Truax couldn’t escape with Mother Superior deciding to stop conveniently mid-way through the first track. This was fixed later on in the set but lead him to quip that he only plays alongside machines because they’re normally “more reliable than humans”.
There’s a theatrical narrative streak through his performance that would completely absorb the audience. Mostly shown during ‘Full Moon Over Wowtown’ which saw Truax play most of the track from the crowd stating that the “separation had become apparent”. Walking throughout the audience, standing on chairs, tables and spinning in circles to finish the track, we learnt about the mysterious, surreal place of “Wowtown”.
Even a waltz was thrown into the set, ‘Precarious Waltz’, a machine-like paced, hypnotic fairground track taken from Truax’s latest album ‘All That Heaven Allows’. Alongside this, the more mechanical and swampy track ‘The Cannibals Have Kidnapped Our Nicole Kidman’ details a doomed flight which crashes into a tropical island but is also another highlight from the set.
It was a completely out-there but such a unique, clever live performance that will change your life. If you get to see Thomas Truax in a venue as small as The Loft, Southsea, do it, you won’t be disappointed. Completely and utterly mind-blowing.
I don’t think words can do the performance justice, but now everything else seems boring in comparison to Thomas Truax.