I’m pretty excited and nervous about this. Tonight is a double first for me. Despite them having been one of my favourite bands since I heard a track on a sampler nearly six years ago, I’ve never seen 65daysofstatic live. I’ve also never reviewed a gig before. I go to the show with a friend who also dabbles in music journalism, but while I’m still just getting used to the temperature of the water and inflating my armbands he’s got a healthy-looking crawl coming along. The aura of ‘self-assured reporter’ emanating from his notebook-free person blocks the already minimal light by which I’m frantically scribbling my ramshackle notes. Unsure about what will be useful for the review, I seem to have written down anything that came into my head, so right now I’m wading through some properly nonsensical balls such as ‘evil blues’ and ‘loadsa keys’. Hmmm. But enough about me. I walk into the O2 to see two men with yellow and blue papier mâché face masks behind a desk covered in wires, dials and samplers. It’s first act of the night, local electro duo Coloureds, whose raw, crunky beats make Justice sound bland as a korma. At times it feels like they’ve taken sampling tips from 2 Many DJs, but when you expect anything like those Belgians’ friendly melodic hooks to come through they sabotage it with moments of dissonant trance or dirty noise. The only problem is that most people in the room don’t really know what to do. Do we party like it’s 2099 or just nod our heads appreciatively? Oh the confusion. But as Norman Bates might have said, I like to watch, so I’m happy. Up next are Kong, whose reputation as an enjoyably fearsome three-piece ball of angular hardcore energy precedes them. Two thirds of the members are also in Oceansize, but anyone expecting proggy post-rock might be taken aback by the racket coming from these masked Mancs. At times they sound kind of like an even more badass permutation of their mates Future of the Left (but without the melodies, the ‘60s beach-pop drumming and the funny banter). I suppose you could be really unimaginative and say that Kong are an abrasive punk band who play heavy music, but that encourages people to think they know what they’re in for, ‘cos, you know, they’re a hardcore band, right’? The awesome (and fun) thing about Kong is that you never fully know exactly what it is that you’re in for. There’s something here for everyone who likes a bit of snarl in their music, and for those who don’t there’s always Mark Heron’s insane octopus drumming to impress you. After Kong clear their stuff off the stage, now festooned with synths and spare drum parts, the house lights go down in readiness for 65daysofstatic’s set, and the ‘In Heaven’ tune sung by the weird sideburn woman in David Lynch’s Eraserhead comes out over the PA. The band then rips into ‘Go Complex’ as soon as they come on stage, pumping what sounds like math for Pendulum fans out into the venue. What follows is an almost seamless string of recent material: nearly all of this year’s We Were Exploding Anyway features in the set, as well as the duo of ‘Pacify’ and ‘PX3’ from the Heavy Sky EP. While some bands like to keep things one-paced, 65daysofstatic trade in huge builds and massive payoffs, and although the electronics could perhaps be a little louder in the mix, the absence of some of that studio polish makes for a rawer, more immediate sound than what can sometimes come out on record. One of the things about 65daysofstatic live is that their shows are physical performances just as much as musical ones (even if Joe Shrewsbury’s famous guitar-on-chin balancing wasn’t in evidence tonight). I guess a benefit of the backing track format that they use is the band can put as much effort into their moves as their instruments, and while keyboardist/programmer/guitarist Paul Wolinski and drummer Rob Jones hold things together, Shrewsbury and bassist Simon Wright can tear it up for us punters’ amusement. But not everything is left to the pre-prepared material, of course, a fact that is apparent when they wheel out old favourites from their first full-length The Fall of Math. ‘Retreat Retreat’ sounds even more heartfelt than I thought it could, as do ‘I Swallowed Hard Like I Understood’, the huge ‘Fix The Sky A Little’, and the At The Drive-In-esque ‘This Cat Is A Landmine’. Closer ‘Tiger Girl’ feels a lot more natural live, but the highlight of the set for me comes in the form of ‘Radio Protector’, the most rewarding of 65daysofstatic’s slow-builders. Please, go and see this band. Don’t be like me and wait six years, but if you can then watch them at least six times per year. They’re too good to miss.