Arts: Surf quake

POP: DEAD MAN'S CURVE; 100 CLUB, LONDON
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The Independent Culture
WHEN DEAD Man's Curve released their first single "SurfQuake" it was accompanied by a State of California Public Safety Leaflet. "Get safe for the quake!" it warned. "Make sure your house is bolted to its foundations." On Thursday London's 100 Club was subjected to 80 minutes of thunderous reverb while these five instrumentalists proved their status as the tyrants of twang.

Surf specialists need good song titles and the band were off to a flying start with "Perranporth Pipeline", a high-speed duel between the twin guitars of Dead Men Django and Buzz T. They kept their feet on the board for the spy theme "Agent Orange" and then offered a bat-black cover of The Moontrekkers' "Night of the Vampire". Front man Django is a master of the distortion pedal, kicking it hard during the cool drift of "Big Thursday".

If you don't know what surf tunes sound like, imagine The Shadows playing at double speed.Even better, try standing on top of a moving train. "Trainsurfing" prepared the ground for the even more dangerous "Rumble". Link Wray's 1958 gang-fight blaster was the only instrumental ever to be banned from the radio, and Dead Man's Curve gave it the treatment it deserved. The drummer Gus Deadman crashed along while those infamous chords resounded up front.

The 100 Club crowd was on the move now and, as the band tore on, spasmodic dancing erupted, encouraged by songs such as "The West before White Men" and "Blacktop Blackout". This tune about a rocket-powered car that gets embedded in a cliff face ended the main set, but Dead Man's Curve were not allowed to leave the building. They returned quickly for "Charlie's Point", a simulated VC ambush using guitars instead of machine-guns. Fortunately, Django's Fender and Buzz's Maton remained intact for the band's favourite, the one they'd kept until last.

"Hawaii Five-0" was their last chance if they were going to surf safely over the heads of the crowd and home to south London. They made it in one mad final dash, and escaped with sweat dripping from their black dragon shirts. Dead Man's Curve's last album was called World Catastrophe Generator and there's a new one on the way entitled We will prevail. This is a band that live and breathe surf and they somehow manage to do it without the fear of drowning.

Magnus Mills

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