Providing not only an audial but a visual feast, Snapped Ankles keep the audience on their toes with their own brand of post-punk, electronic tree rock.
Sitting down for another overpriced pint in the stylish Metronome foyer, it is hard to judge the crowd that have come down to witness Snapped Ankles on another sold-out date of their tour. With two albums under their belt (the excellent Stunning Luxury released earlier this year), the band have played in all manner of strange and unusual locations and the fanbase they have amassed almost reflects this - a diverse group of varying ages and fashions all eagerly waiting for the evening’s entertainment to commence.
As we shuffle into the adjacent room, the audience is greeted by an ominous red glow projected from the screen that adorns the back of the stage. A pre-recorded intro suddenly bursts from the speakers and Nuha Ruby Ra makes her way to the mic stand. Dressed in matching red leather boots and raincoat, she blends seamlessly into the screen behind her, ushering the crowd to “come closer” in a voice as hypnotising as the lights flashing across her face. Perhaps unimpressed with the audience’s reaction to her request, she decides instead to bring herself into the crowd, weaving her way through the bodies as onlookers try not to spill their drinks, stepping over the mic wire that trails behind her. A performance artist in the truest sense of the word, Nuha Ruba Ra makes for a fascinating watch and, despite occasional moments reminding me of the ‘Art’ episode from the first series of Spaced, her energy and vocal talent is to be admired, and helps set up the weird and wonderful tone the rest of the night doesn’t fail to let off.
In what must be one of the quickest turnarounds in support bands I’ve ever seen (literally, if you’d gone for another pint, you would have probably missed the first two songs), Lunch Money Life take to the stage. Running through an experimental and captivating set, the 5-piece shift between a variety of instruments (a trombone and saxophone make key appearances), adding layer upon layer to the group’s synth-heavy tracks. Noticeably, the drumming is also exceptional and a particular drum solo featuring two members of the band proves not only to be a hit with the crowd, but suggests this is a group you need to see live in order to fully appreciate their sound.
The audience well and truly warmed up by the previous acts, Snapped Ankles arrive to a wave of appreciation. Dressed in boiler suits and their now iconic shamanic/pagan woodland masks, (bringing about a surrealist quality that wouldn’t look out of place in The Wicker Man or The Mighty Boosh), the four-piece from London take time to set up their extensive collection of pedals and homemade log synths - literally pieces of wood the band hit on several occasions with another stick to create otherworldly noises. Following a rather psychedelic intro, the band then kick into action with Let’s Revel, and the frenetic, angular Tailpipe; a track bursting with so much energy that it’s almost impossible to keep still to, it’s driving rhythms causing limbs to flail from all directions. It also provides frontman Austin his first opportunity to enter the crowd (he makes sure to visit every corner of the audience as the gig progresses), pacing through a sea of bodies like something out of Where the Wild Things Are.
It is clear however that despite the outfits and theatrics, Snapped Ankles are not merely just a gimmick but have something important to say, many of the songs being politically fuelled by the environmental damage and destruction humanity has actively caused. This is seen clearly both in the way Austin declares they will be showing a horror film on the screen behind that may be uncomfortable to watch – a video then appears showing images of London’s industrial landscape, an theme mirrored by track Pestisound (Moving Out); a song told from the first person perspective of trees being removed to make way for business endeavours.
As the evening progresses, the audience are treated to a continued bombardment of the senses, whether it be the presence of a cowbell (always a sign of a good gig), extracts from 'Blue Velvet' or at one point Austin taking a tape measure into the audience and proceeding to take the measurements of the room (an activity he has been keeping up across every venue on their current tour). Amidst the metallic electronica of Rechargeable, the lead singer even takes one of his log synths into the crowd, encouraging a woman to try it for herself – a proposition she responds to hesitantly, before receiving a big hug from the woolly frontman.
Making his way back on to the stage, the band then erupt into debut album highlight I Want My Minutes Back, the crowd echoing the catchy refrain back in full voice, before the set closes (the band don’t return for an encore) with the pulsating Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin. As the lights slowly come up, many of the audience members actively start discussing what they have just witnessed. Whatever the conclusion is, it’s surely something they’ll never forget.