Live Review: Klammer – Guerrilla Gig, Yorkshire, UK, 4th September 2020

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Guerrilla Gig, Yorkshire, UK - 4th September 2020

Remember live music? it’s now pretty much a distant memory for most of us as gig after gig was cancelled as the pandemic spread, eventually the venues closed their doors, then the festivals began to disappear from spring and summer leaving a huge void in 2020. For me it’s been just over seven months, the longest gap since my mid teens, since I last experienced live music up close and personal as it’s meant to be, although tonight’s secret gig by post punk act Klammer does not mean that it’s business as usual. To start with there are no tickets, this was an invite only affair, so tonight promises to be something that is needed by the band and for those of us who just need our fix, secondly there’s the location and crowd, tonight sees me heading out across the pennines to catch Klammer in a secret location with a small socially distanced crowd… it’a a concert Jim, but not as we know it.

There has been a steady stream of virtual live music available to try and fill the void, everything from bedroom acoustic performances to full band sets in an empty sports stadium have been available online, but these never quite seem to hit the spot, that’s not a criticism of the bands, it’s just that without the crowd, sticky floors, random encounters and all the other chaotic elements that make gigs memorable are absent. No matter how unusual tonight’s set up might seem at first glance I was not going to refuse the offer of live music, of course I immediately accepted the invitation and once I’d found where I left my ear plugs back at the end of January, or more accurately where the cats had hidden them, I’m braving sobriety and Friday night traffic in the hope that tonight will scratch an itch that’s become ever more insistent.

After getting lost in the suburbs of Yorkshire, and exchanging several texts with the band to find the venue, I am eventually greeted by Klammer outside the ageing Victorian building that is hosting tonight’s guerrilla gig. Yorkshire hospitality is on offer, that’s beer and crisps to the uninitiated, and a small socially distant crowd is present for a night that hopefully signifies the gradual return of live music. Klammer are playing two sets tonight, the first revisits their earlier material, from the relatively poppier singles, such as ‘Spiral Girl‘ and ‘Modern God‘, to the darker and weightier tracks such as ‘Production‘ And ‘Tonight‘. The angular driven post punk suits the intimate, but socially distant, space that sees many experiencing live music for the first time in over six months, and it instantly reminds you just how much you’ve missed it.

After a brief interval Klammer return for their second set, they have channelled the frustration of lockdown into the band and tonight sees many of their new songs getting their first public airing. Klammer deliver twelve of the sixteen new tracks from their upcoming new album, from the outset it’s clear that they are enjoying being able to play to a crowd and expose their new material, based on this first airing the new album should be something to look forward to. Klammer have stayed true to their roots but with a rockier feel, not in a spandex, drum solos and big hair sense, but rather that it feels more driven and accessible than their earlier material. For now the future of live music would seem to lie in small guerrilla gigs like this that are too small to feel the weight of the law, and the associated hefty fines, for gatherings of over thirty people.*
Tonight reminded me of what we lost earlier this year, meeting both old friends and new faces, albeit socially distanced, a few beers, kindly provided by Klammer, and of course the unique thrill that live music provides. Tonight was not about replacing what we used to have, every single person present, including the band, needed tonight. Both sides of the stage needed this catharthis, even if it’s only to feel a brief return to some degree of normality. I have no idea when I’ll next get the chance to catch anyone else live, although I’m pinning my hopes on early 2021, so I want to thank Klammer for giving me some sense of a return to my pre-2020 life. Ringing ears, overpriced coffee and shut motorway junctions were all reassuringly present on the journey back across the pennines, but the real reason that tonight was so enjoyable was that I got the chance to leave my house and experience, not just hear, live music. I’m counting the days until the next concert, in whatever form it may take.
The most important thing we can do whilst we’re waiting for a solution to the pandemic and it’s impact on every aspect of the entertainment industry, if you in the fortunate position to be able to do so, is to financially support the artists you love, contribute to campaigns and fundraisers to assist those who have lost their income and to save our grassroots venues, because when we come out the other side of this dumpster fire of a year we’re going to need them. You can also try and hold politicians to their empty promises to support grassroots music and those workers in the industry, who let’s not forget were amongst the first out of work and will be the last back, something that doesn’t seem to be being provided either to the very venues we need the most or to the artists and industry workers.
*After this was written the lockdown was reduced again to groups of 6 people, so for now we’re back to virtual gigs
Photography by Steve White. You can visit Steve White‘s Flickr site here and you can click on any of the photos to view a slide show of the images.
Klammer‘s website is here and they can be found on Facebook here