Although I’ve been following the progress of Brown Brogues for the past couple of years now and seen them several times, I quite frankly know fuck all about Murkage or their cartel. I know that Murkage is a night at the Manc club South, or at the very least was, but I’ve never been a fan of the venue and everything about dubstep can fuck off; it seems that Murkage is much more than a club night.
I’m still unsure as to whether I’ll be getting to Soup Kitchen to find a packed stage or a relatively empty one, the boundaries to exactly who or what the Murkage cartel comprises of musician wise being fairly oblique, the cartel containing 23 different artists who all flirt with different artforms. When I saw Brown Brogues at Deaf Institute a man got onstage with them halfway through their set and started rapping over the groups instrumentals, which was the most interesting piece of the event that I’ve never bothered to enquire about. Now I assume that that was likely Murkage Dave, the founding member who acts as the leader of the cartel.
The concept of collaboration in any artform interests me, which is why I’m a strong fan and supporter of art collectives; a sense of community in all things creative is definitely something that I find helps rather than hinders the artistic process.
I’m woozy and my eyes are finding it difficult to stay with one topic at the moment, a heavy reminder of the night before snoozing on my brain. In my current daze, the previous paragraph seems to me to be quite pretentious but fuck it. I’ve got a gig to see and words that need writing.
The upstairs in Soup Kitchen was packed when I entered with Miller and Alice; me and Alice had got the bus up, catching a group of old friends who’d been drinking with Miller before we got there. They left soon after we arrived. We decided to wait upstairs till some more turned up even though Brown Brogues had begun playing downstairs, rationalising that we’d already seen them so many times to spend further time with Alice. In the end, she bought a ticket and we headed downstairs to catch the last two songs of the Bro Bro set.
The first was ‘My Birthday’ from their recent Record Store Day release Zoloto, a bouncy yet aggressive tune that renders it impossible not to bob slightly. The second was ‘A G from the Cradle’, a tune from their second LP, a typical Bro Bro mix of psych and garage that leaves you with dirty thoughts and a bad taste in your mouth. For the two songs we saw them, they were fucking brilliant, their usual garage sound still contained within the extreme clarity I don’t think has been present at one of their gigs yet. After two years, they’re still keeping me interested. Before leaving, the lead singer mumbled at the sparse audience “We’ll be back later with Murkage. You’ve got something special coming” and grunted harshly into the mic.
We came back to the crowd after a smoke with no expectations to find a drummer, a lad behind some decks and three guys with microphones. The drummer was going fucking insane over the DJ’s instrumentals while the three guys, who included Murkage Dave, bounced their way through a particularly aggressive tune with furtive enjoyment. There wasn’t a moment when anyone on stage was still, the three vocalists dodging each other with experienced precision; during a particularly energetic display, Murkage Dave managed to accidentally drop tha mic. As can often happen when seeing rappers live, their vocals were unfortunately crowded by the instrumentals, but the drummer tore through everything like a fucking machine and left it impossible not to bob your head at a minimum.
“Step the fuck forward yeah. Don’t be scared.” This statement was shortly followed by the screaming demand “I don’t care how fucking cool you think you are, get the fuck down now, get the fuck down!” As the three men on stage crouched down during the performance of a song, the majority of the crowd followed. Once the beat dropped, the crowd became temporarily pumped and wired from the head rush caused by standing up to fast.
Without informing the audience, Bro Bro started setting up a kit among the crowd of people throughout Murkage’s performance of their penultimate tune. Once Murkage finished their set, Bro Bro took their position opposite the stage, helping to emphasise the vs. As they played, Murkage providing further drums and frenzied vocals, the rappers leaped from the small stage to perform their dodging act among us.
The last ten minutes were fantastic but far too brief, Murkage and Brown Brogues successfully melding a surfy garage vibe with hugely thrash undertones. They’d been hyping this gig for long enough to have expected a better duration but once they’d done, they were drenched in a punk ethic that left me invigorated and excited, if a little cock teased.