SEXTILE @ Cuban Embassy, 16 September 2018

It’s a wet, autumn night and you’re a very cheerful, good looking band, who have travelled four thousand or so miles from sunny LA to be in a country of grim, dour and pasty residents of which twenty could manage to put their mobile phones down and come out to be entertained. What do you do?

  1. Join in with the grim and dour?
  2. Give it full beans, have some fun and entertain the handful of people there to see you?

I’ll answer that later. Firstly there is the small matter of the support band to deal with;  Futumche!

Billing themselves in various corners of the internet as alternative rock, Punk, Post Punk, experimental rock and probably a host of other genre, this three piece; guitar, drums, bass and various synth and electronic boxes, set about confusing this reviewer from the start. Long extended pieces move from dark industrial goth rock to a strange progressive rock almost seamlessly. Unfortunately for them, I fought in the tail end of the Punk Rock Wars to stop the goosestep of Prog Rock marching across the dance floors of the land. It wasn’t right then and it still isn’t in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing at all bad about them, they are indeed very tight and obviously skilful musicians. It’s just that at first listen, at first watch, they are probably too confusing for your average gig-goer. That said,  I would be doing them a great disservice if I failed to mention their debut album “To The Withered Deity”. Listening to it on stream at home it crystalizes their sound into a weird but very listenable soundtrack to a H. P. Lovecraft nightmare. A mix of Lard, Black Flag, Black Sabbath and PIL. Listen to the album and then do go watch them and make up your own mind. I think in that order they’ll make more sense. I’d see them again because I think I now get them.

So, after a longish turnaround, SEXTILE from LA take to the stage. Or rather two thirds of them do.

Vocalist/guitarist Brady Keehn joins the audience to dance and sing the whole set inches from us on the floor and dancing is what he does from the start to the end of the set. Man, that guy is fit. He never breaks sweat, though he does take his raincoat off halfway through the set, and he never drops a note.

Drummer/vocalist Melissa Scaduto stands behind her kit in the corner of the small stage whilst stand-in bassist Quincy(?) bounces around left of stage. Brady has no option but to take to the dance floor because the combined electronic orchestra of Korgs and MS-10 are not going to give up their places on stage.

Those that saw the Sunflower Lounge gig in January maybe wondering why they are no longer a four piece. I can’t answer that but what I do know is that it affords the songs more space to breathe. Not that they sounded cluttered as a quartet. The previously occasional dual guitars gave them a solid wall of throbbing sound. Cutting back to a three piece with only one occasional guitar gives them less of a Suicide meets early Jesus And Mary Chain sound and more of a pronounced D.A.F. meets Nitzer Ebb electro sound.

The bangers from the 2016 album make up about half of the set; the insistent throb of ‘Mental’ is followed by the speedy tension of ‘Sterilized’ and makes for a tipping point from old into new. From scuzzed up paranoia into danceable 80s styled electro Punk. Melodies and beats abound from here-on in. It’s a far less darker sound yet still with that head on rush insistence. Songs like ‘Disco’ even make me want to dance and throw out a few double claps.

The simple but solid beats from the acoustic drums keep time perfectly and come across like a pace-setter for the electronics to slavishly follow. The songs do not deviate. They have no choice in the matter; Germanic and robotic like a production line of beats.

If there isn’t a better looking band in DIY punk influenced electro-pop then I’ll eat my Sextile albums! They ooze goth tinged glamour and thrift store coolness. I blew my fashion cool in my twenties when mohair jumpers and PVC turned to office wear, but I swear, if I was back there, then Brady would be where I would be looking to get my look. I kinda hope Brady and Melissa are an item…. rock’n’roll needs another Lux and Ivy or another Jon and Christina and these guys should be it!

So… to answer my initial question. If I was them then I’d be grim and dour considering the pathetic turnout. What did they do? They gave it full beans and smiled their way through. Check out the new E.P. “3”. Play it loud and see what you missed because after that turnout I can’t see them stopping off in Brum again.


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Reviewer: Mark Veitch
Photographer: Chris Bowley

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