Freya Saulsbury Martin
Freya Saulsbury Martin is a full-time vet, part-time DJ and part-time music journalist currently based in Cornwall, with an interest in the DIY/post-punk scene and its adjacent folk revival. She plays either camp tech-house or Northern Soul DJ sets in her very limited spare time.
KEG bring their unique style to the Cornish Bank for an authentic, wonderfully wonky and witty night of punk
‘Egg-punk’ – the subgenre of a subgenre describing the intersection between art-punk and post-rock, characterised by energetic, charismatic and synth-heavy music and a disdain for serious and overly earnest post-punkery. KEG in a nutshell.
The 7-piece, originally founded in the wilds of Yorkshire and now based in London, made the long pilgrimage to our shores this week, playing to a stacked out Cornish Bank and showcasing their particular brand of tongue-in-cheek music-slash-cynicism, occupying a curious and unexpected middle ground between Squid and Talking Heads.
KEG begin their set with a masterful growth of synth and trombone, almost orchestral in their soaring entry and whipping up the crowd’s anticipation. The regimented spirals of ‘5/4’ unfurl and Albert Haddenham’s baleful and sardonic vocals roll around the room.
Most recent single ‘Quip Quash’ seamlessly follows, a corker of a track which maintains the relentless energy with sharp strikes of guitar clamouring against drums and synths. During the beautifully messy instrumental interlude, Haddenham dismounts the stage and appears to survey the band as a member of the audience, as if somewhat impressed by his handiwork – a.k.a. his fellow bandmates.
KEG effortlessly merge classic post-punk with new-wave synth wizardry, seen through the combined lenses of suburban inanity and discordant free jazz. A deep dive into the band’s Spotify playlists reveals influences as diverse as Dido, Wu-Lu and Dizzee Rascal – how much of this is ironic is hard to tell. This seems to be the general theme with KEG: purposely toeing the line between sincerity and cynicism, simultaneously an assortment of accomplished musicians and tracks yet also, realistically, a bit of a pisstake.
Throughout their music and performance lingers spectres of characters like a humdrum office drone or the long-suffering middle class parent. Take the acerbic ‘Kids’, where Haddenham meticulously assassinates the characters of those born with a silver spoon in their mouths, likely a common sighting in the privileged circles of the South East’s music and art scene.
Scathing lines such as “ Daddy….I want an Itsu – Now!” and “Priscilla’s / au pair / thinks it’s unfair / her Alpen be served on / anything other than earthenware” are screeched out in Haddenham’s droll sprechgesang, dripping with sarcasm and disdain, disguised by fast paced and infectious track heavy on the bassline and cowbell. KEG perfectly unite derisive observations with manic multi-faceted instrumentation.
The audience are relishing this ordered chaos, from the tight riffs of ‘Presidential Walk’ to the dystopian ‘Fishing’, decisively punctuated with warped synth and awkward squalls of trombone. KEG’s energy is contagious, perfectly reflected in the setting of the Cornish Bank – as Haddenham greets the “crowd on four levels”, I can’t help but appreciate the similarities mirrored between band and venue – both a little bit wonky, multi-layered and authentic, if a little rough around the edges.
It takes a lot of work and attention to detail to fill such a space so brilliantly and cohesively, yet still sound this chaotic. KEG have cooked up an alarmingly good repertoire of cheerful and witty observations. Peppered with infectious beats and liberal servings of experimental instrumentation, they have created a rambunctious and enigmatic live show, served, as always, with a knowing smile.
Listen to ‘Quip Quash’ here: