The Fly has Eight Legs! Kafka Involved!

The Knaves opened a three-band set at The Fly on November 6th featuring The Black Tricks and the great Eight Legs. The Knaves played loud, mainstream rock, and, while exhibiting some restrained passion and some classy dance moves, they were, in essence, a practice band. Songs were long in a good way, but lacked the necessary innovation and risk taking that a more experienced band would be willing to try.

Lyrical repetitions grew tiring with several songs, particularly "Somethin 4 The WKND" which felt a little too Bon Jovi. However, solid musicianship, especially the enviable skill and relaxed stage presence of their lead guitarist Jack Wharton, means that their next period of growth could be very promising if they'll let themselves experiment just a little more. Subject matter for new material shouldn't be hard as two members work as court recording clerks in East London - songs about Jack the Ripper, anyone? Or a Nick Cave cover?

Following The Knaves were The Black Tricks, a band who epitomize the ancient proverb: "outlandish clothes and hair do not a band make." The Black Tricks appeared more interested in the indulgent signifiers of rock 'n' roll superstardom than in creating and performing quality music, whatever the genre. People don't want to pay to see a band imitating hair bands unless the act is deliberately (or inadvertently) hilarious. The Black Tricks were neither - or, to put it another way, they are a good group of musicians who need to focus their art and stop whatever phony vibe they've bought into for the moment.

With that said, The Black Tricks are fine musicians, which was evidenced by their set - but an overemphasis on peripheral bull shit masked their potential. This group could be good if they'd re-evaluate whatever scene it is that they've mythologized.

Finally, the fantastic headlining performance of Eight Legs. The set was a solid and intensely understated performance. The band attempted little to no banter between pieces, preferring rather to focus on their thoughtful brand of surf-ska punk. The gig exuded a slow, danceable post-punk charm devoid of the postured bravado so typical of pretenders to the genre, but replete with the DIY ethos that makes punk ... punk.

To clarify my point with an image: the boys were wearing t-shirts that they made at home, with phrases scrawled on them with tape and markers. Immediately after playing, frontman Sam Jollythrew on a sweatshirt and was indistinguishable from the crowd.

His metamorphosis was made all the more intriguing by the book sticking out of his pocket throughout the show and after: The Collected Works of Franz Kafka.

Eight Legs. The Fly. Kafka. Metamorphosis. Insects. Post-punk. The improbability of a band with an insect-like name playing at a venue named after an insect is interesting in its own right, but add to that the fact that Kafka's most famous story involves a man turning into an insect (with eight legs) and you have, well, to continue the pattern, a tangled web of connections surrounding a band that is worth getting caught up in.