Giving birth to Babyslave’s first gig

July 9, 2007 at 11:20 pm (Babyslave shows)

Subterfuge Flyer

15.06.07. 8
These numbers have such symmetry. Etched forever on our soles as the date when Babyslave came out of their back bedrooms and gave birth to a pool of kaos into the world.

Well it started like this…

I met up with the boys in Stockport for our first (and only) rehearsal. They say: ‘it’s grim up north’ and Manchester has ‘so much to answer for‘. Well Stockport, by comparison, has definitely been sent to Coventry.

After walking miles of dilapidated take-aways and industrial retail units, we finally arrive at our glamorous rehearsal studios in an imposing industrial mill. Furniture retailers and a dangerous looking gym (think: Krays personal suite). We get in the freight lift with our gear. It’s a bit erratic, jerky, never quite getting to the floor we want until….
Yep, we’re trapped in a lift waiting for the fire brigade. We have our instruments and beers so not all bad. Had ET moment peering out of the window to see men approaching in yellow helmets and what looked like atomic suits. Rescued by burly chaps with all the necessary equipment – how dramatic! I thought they’d cut us out with big chainsaws and stuff – but not so dramatic. They found the ‘security guard’ and fiddled with the leavers til out we scuttled. Bit of an anti-climax, but we lived to tell the tale. Rock and roll!

babyslave. lift in Stockportbabyslave. lift in Stockport

Above: Here we are, stuck in a lift awaiting our rescue in Stockport

The next night at the gig – repeat same. Salford Mill, an industrial mill-cum-artists hang out, this time in Salford, a similarly scenic and charming spot of the world where they are going to built the UK’s first Media City on the watery quays. On the less aquatic back streets, you’re more likely to feel the cool metallic sensation of a knife on your throat heading to the off license. A city of contrasts.

It would be fair to say Subterfuge was fairly low-key and casual. I wouldn’t say the organisation was lacking, just beyond opaque. Apparently the sound guy was having his dinner or something – we never saw him all night so we just did it ourselves. Still, it made for a nice communal vibe between the acts – and what a fun line-up.

The Matinee Orchestra enchanted the select crowd with some lovely, unexpected summery upbeat jazz-tinged numbers. Aspects of The Cardigans, but full of energy and optimism – in contrast to the sawdust-filled grimy surroundings.

Next up were two burlesque dancers. I just don’t get burlesque. Yes, it is an art, but to do art you have to be an artist, not an imitator. And to do burlesque you’ve got to be able to ‘do sexy’ even if you don’t look conventionally sexy. The men (and women) seem to look on in horror when she was undressing from a puffball party frock with a teddy bear to ‘Truly Scrumptious’. Truly excruciating. But in some ways, appropriately ‘industrial’ in its method and reaction, to ‘do sex’ and make it utterly unsexy – almost mechanistic.

Then Babyslave rocked da house. The line up being:

Hypnotique (voice, sax, theremin)
Charles Mansion (laptop, sax, violin, voice)
Joe Ladyboy (laptop, guitar and sorting the whole musical shebang out. Cheers for that).

We went for a mix of ‘hits’ and noise. Highlights being ‘To Each Their Own‘ (role-call of those beyond good and evil) and Joe’s latest ‘anthem’ ‘We Hate You Little Girls Aloud‘ – a tribute to Throbbing Gristle, 2007 style. Lots of ad-hoc madcap stuff in between featuring dualing alto saxophones, invention of a new high octane language for ‘Little Girls’ and opportunities to rock out and make a lot of pleasantly noisey feedback.

And the feedback from our small posse of pals who’d braved it to Salford was positive. Yay! We survived our first gig! Next time, hopefully we’ll dare to do a bit more of the music live, add some live visuals and be a bit more challenging – to ourselves and audience. It’s all very well doing confrontational music, but you have to know the audience is with you (helps if you’ve got an audience too), and know what you’re doing, so these low key ventures are a good thing – for now. Afterwards we were buzzing – must have been the vibe, or maybe the effects of the ‘chinese medicine’ Charles thrust in my paw before the show.

After us, there was an interesting turntablist act from Hull called Slippedisco. Kind of playing records from charity shops with bits of tape stuck to them to create lock grooves. Intriguing (unlistenable) stuff. Reminded me of Project Dark who I once gigged with, they made records out of materials (hair, sand, metal) and played them on gramophone records. Peel loved em. Apparently it was Slippedisco’s first gig outside of their hometown. Joe was keen to point how offensive I was to them to say “What you’ve never left Hull?”. I actually meant to say “you’ve never played outside Hull” but it obviously came out wrong. Apologies if any offense taken. Now it’s not often I apologise so lap it up, northern boys. I’m sure it’s very nice in Hull. Gotta be better than Salford.

The whole event, and surroundings, although skewing on Nathan Barley, was a suitably fitting place for Babyslave’s first gig. As always, I was operating on wing-and-a-prayer mode-da-operatus. Didn’t have anywhere to stay but the lovely Caro Snatch saw I wasn’t running the streets of Salford, Morrissey-style.

Today Salford, tomorrow – Salt Lake.
Or Budleigh Salterton?
Actually, we’re looking for some more shows, so even that would be OK. If you’re a promoter in Budleigh looking for a dada-inspired electro-noise act, please do get in touch…
Miss H




  1. charliemachine said,

    The blogsite is looking beautiful Ms Q. I think the lift experience added a very special flavour to the gig the following night. Something along the lines of a Zombie Lounge Situation (as per Joe Ladyboy’s exquisite little number). Caught Caro Snatch’s support for Bat for Lashes last week. Digital Folk Eupsychia. Very intriguing. OK – and I’m trying to arrange a Babyslave gig not for from the North Pole through an organisation i am “involved” with called the Eschaton Institute. More on that anon…

    Charlie Machine aka Mansion aka X

  2. susi said,

    syncronicity pervades…Abi Fry, who played viola with the group you saw me play with, Flowers of Hell, is also playing viola, voice and handclaps with Bats for Lashes. I saw their videos – although they’re on a major label and a bit derivitive of my old cohorts Broadcast I thought it was damned good stuff.. i’m game for north pole or antarctica too. Would we scare away the penguins?
    ms hypnotique aka hypnotique aka specials aka

  3. Charlie Machine said,

    Looks like the North Pole may well be scuppered for now Susi/Ms Hypnotique/ akaakakaka – President Putin and various Canadian and Russian politicos have made the zone somewhat more unfriendly to the likes of Babyslave than it was before. Cold War surveillance has returned with avengeance, and the polar bears are no longer what they seem. (Were they ever – let’s face it?) Never mind – there are other parts of the disappearing world to play with/in. Antarctica? Sumatra? Beswick? I’ll keep you posted. As for Bats – pop Broadcast in some ways, but pretty damn good on show!
    Charlie Machine/Mansion/X/???

  4. Auld news: Hypnotique news archives 2002 – 2007 – said,

    […] a review of the Subterfuge event on the Babyslave […]

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