Live Review: Black Midi - Rough Trade East, London 25/06/2019


If marmite on crisply burnt toast were to have a sound it would quite possibly be not too dissimilar to London’s latest experimental battlers; Black Midi. Fiercely from their own structured brutalism planet with a cult-hype reputation like no other you either really get the four piece or you really, really don’t. Regardless, we’re all talking math rock. 

If opportunity comes to see this beast of sound in its drummed flesh you must take it immediately and with no reservations. Playing a mesmerisingly anticipated set at Rough Trade East (they’re also signed to the label) watching Black Midi live is sea of blood biblical in the groups ability to discordantly divide the crowd in a red alert level smog of buzz and drones whilst spurning out goose-bumped bloody percussions to the highest degree of wow. Within seconds of their Soldja Boy into ‘953’ entrance (the first track off of their debut) the entire room, audience and staff a-like were challenged to a dared awakening of how the remainder of the night could pan out.  The shop was physically, metaphorically and everything in-between split down the middle between the “Oh wow look at these kids what, are they 12??” gang of whom, with daze possessed eyes would follow with comments of how the sound compared to having a panic attack inside a rusty rocket with no windows whilst tapping their left feet off beat (because let’s be realistic no person, machine or heart beat can keep time with Morgan Simpson) and are left feeling fizzed Cola overwhelmed for a Tuesday evening. 

The alternatively favoured  response- and this is where the majority of the youthfully in-scene, silver hoop  in one ear crowd in the room fit was to inhibition breaking take it all in. Like gutter crawling,  head banging possessively take it all in. All the fractured free-forms and the hyper magnetisms, the astonishing drum performance and threatening rambles from a band of madcap Mavericks who make music as suited for sleep deprivation as it is beautifully mastered in an electric eel in a goldfish bowl state of being. Not everything  was chaos. Fiddly number Western brought forward a twisted ambience of weightless trauma and false sense of security that was was received with gratitude from the structural skeleton keeping the store upright. 

Whilst it may have only been one of the first squares in  Black Midi’s Rubik’s cube, future facing careers, this was unquestionably a gig of legend and it will take years before we all stop asking each other how they found it.

Words by Al Mills

WTHB OnlineLive, Black Midi