Pop music: Bullets over Brixton

The Dub Pistols 100 Club, London
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Why do dub-influenced bands have to broadcast their musical proclivities in their name? Dub Syndicate, Asian Dub Foundation, Dubstar, The Mighty Dub Katz, Dub Warriors - the list is endless. And it's only exponents of dub that do it. You don't come across bands with "heavy metal" in their name, except perhaps in Sweden.

The Dub Pistols leave us in no doubt as to their leanings. Not only are they at pains to spell out their dub roots (they used to be a sound system), but their name also alludes to a rather famous Seventies punk band. And if you still don't get it, then man-at-the-decks Barry Ashworth's bottle- blonde, Lydonesque hairdo will leave you in no doubt.

This Brixton-based band offer a genre-bending chaos of rock riffs, roughed-up electronic beats and resounding reggae rhythms that owes as much to today's dance acts as to their Seventies forebears.

A recent - and thankfully temporary - addition to the band is New York rapper TW Laurence, whose baggy T-shirt and back-to-front baseball cap made him a dead ringer for Harry Enfield's moody youth, Kevin. His repetitive hip-hop chatter - "come on y'all," "everybody in the house" etc - and strange robotic movements made me wonder if he was actually a wind-up doll and if one could shut him up with the simple turn of a key. It was only when he stopped twitching that the music really came into its own.

No dance act is complete without a film backdrop these days, and the Dub Pistols are no exception. But where their role models, Death in Vegas, fuse film and music with originality and style, the Dub Pistols' loops of military marches and political demonstrations seem haphazard and hackneyed. For most of the gig a girl stood behind the mixing desk with yards of film draped around her neck that was evidently too much of a chore to thread back on.

Another accessory for today's self-respecting dance outfit is a bass guitar, and here, at last, was a band that put it to good use. Bassist Jason O'Brian's ear-crunching sound lends the music the raw edge that live dance acts often lack. They reach a show-stopping climax with probably their best known and finest track yet "There's Gonna Be a Riot" - a fast- moving potential club classic that employs a carefully-engineered feedback noise throughout.

The Dub Pistols have a handful of strong dance tracks that will guarantee an industrious summer playing to people in fields, but their recent swell of success is sadly ill-timed. After two years of Chemical Brothers-style overkill, their brand of guitar-driven dance may prove to be a Block Rockin' Beat too many.

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