Six Damn Fine Degrees #96: Biffy Clyro

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

So there are these three Scotsmen who formed a band back in 1995, starting out with unruly punk rock under the equally unruly name of Biffy Clyro, the meaning of which now even escapes the musicians themselves. That doesn’t prevent them from making up stuff – they once claimed that Biffy Clyro was the name of the first Scotsman in space. So anyway – they have become one of the most versatile bands around. They still make a hell of a lot of noise, but they also have one soundtrack (Balance, Not Symmetry), several beautiful ballads (Machines, Opposite, God & Satan) and at least one disco hit (All Singing and All Dancing) under their belt. But their mastery lies in guitar-loaded pop rock with an edge. Listen to the slick mainstream radio tune “Black Chandelier”, or try to heat your flat with “A Hunger In Your Haunt” all turned up. They are highly precise musicians, but they refuse to slow down. If you need a challenge for your ears, listen to the headfuck called “Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep”.

It’s the black oil zombie apocalypse, held in check by three fit young blokes with tats.

And so this guy here bought tickets for their March show a year ago, which got postponed because of some virus, and so finally, finally, they came round here in September. It was in a medium-sized concert hall, and that was part of the problem. The Biff played so loud that it was probably illegal for an indoors concert. My girlfriend, who is not one for earplugs, put them in after the first song (“DumDum”) made the hairs on her arm stand up. What helped her get through the gig was that, very early on, the three guys kept on rumbling half-naked. Not as tall as me, she tried to get glimpses of the trio who behaved like indefatigable Energizer bunnies on stage. She seemed cheerful. I love that woman to bits.

So, anyway, whereas the gig took off well enough with a fucked-up version of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” with a drunken brass section, it would have been a so much better concert if it had been an open-air affair, but standing there, unable to hear my own singing, and feeling my enthusiasm waning after the first 45 minutes, it got harder and harder to like the show because the fine-tuning of their songs, such as the intro to “Unknown Male 01”, got butchered by the sheer volume. Everything started to sound the same because my brain had to come to terms with the loudness. After the second encore, we left, our heads numb from the wall of sound that pummeled us into nervous indifference.

I am not giving up on them, though. They play all kinds of venues, from Portugal to Sweden, at open-air festivals such as Lumnezia, where their uncouth rock is a much better fit. They can no doubt blow you away with their live show in a good way. Last Monday was not that day.

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