Islington Mill is – to all extents and purposes – a community art centre in a housing estate in Salford. Except this particular Friday night the patrons it has attracted on look less like disenfranchised adolescents and more like misfits, misanthropists and cultural parasites. This is because SWAYS Records and Fat Out Til You Pass Out combined DNA and raised ‘The Human Beast’ from the gene pool; a creature of live music, non-live music and other miscellaneous debauchery.
Emperor Zero unleash proceedings with all the fervour of men condemned to death. There are back projections of, among other things, Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf, Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and assorted anti-heroes of Gothic literature turned Hammer Horrors. It’s a triumph of pop culture knowledge and archive footage if nothing else. Their music is visceral and laced with malice. The single ‘Mental Health Café’ acts as a shining example of explosive psychopath pop.
The merchandise table is in a state of entropy; the universal phenomenon where all matter moves from relatively regimented order to chaos. It’s illustrative of things Human Beast on a wider scale; the cerebral mystery tour that is The Volkov Commanders are plying their trade in performance art with silver lame dresses and fishbowls. There’s a narrator talking alien philosophy. It’s treading the line between genius and Doctor Who villainy on a low budget.
Naked on Drugs’ name is proving to be up to 50% accurate, and they’re both wearing clothes. One of them is even wearing flares. They play the sort of violent jazz with jarring, contorted rhythms that you’d expect from two men who don’t share the same mother tongue but share the same shirt. Though in comparison to their predecessors, Naked’s use of real human beings in their act means that they barely make a ripple in the relative pool of surreal.
The concluding phase sees Ghost Outfit on stage. As are a lot of other people within the white- washed, vaulted chamber. It’s a multi-pronged attack, with defiantly carefree melodies seeping through the cracks of a smog of roaring reverb. Gristly noise swells against pillars and bodies. People are on shoulders, people are splayed on the floor, and they’re still dancing when they turn the lights on.
Black & White Photography by Pat Hill