Tonight I am flying solo, only the second time in my long gig going history that I have done so. I have done this because none of my friends particularly like the bands I am about to see but I must.

When I arrive at The Astoria I am a little irritated to find that another band has been added to the bill. I was hoping that I’d be in and out without having to stand around on my own for too long. I am sure that I have heard and been unimpressed with the music of Zu before which doesn’t bode too well for the next half an hour. However when three men stride on stage, one of whom is clutching a saxophone I have to do a double take, perhaps I am mistaken, and boy was I wrong. Zu proceed to tear into song after song of free-from jazz meets death metal. The bass and drums are so loud and nasty that I can feel every single strike of them in my chest. Soon the reasonably empty front of the venue starts filling with people, all of whom are nodding their heads in appreciation. I even spot King Buzzo from the Melvins, and of course Fantomas, on the side of the stage watching intently. It’s always good when you see a support band that you enjoy, it’s even better when they confound your expectations completely. After they finish I promise myself that I am going to check them out further and to not be so rash in my music based decisions in the future. The Locust are an incredibly divisive band. Most people hate them, as evidenced by their last appearance at The Astoria with Yeah Yeah Yeahs where they were booed, jeered, and pelted with bottles, but if you love them then you love them with your whole heat. I’ve been a huge fan since the moment I heard Plague Soundscapes and my love has only gotten bigger with each subsequent release, as they mature and broaden their sonic horizons. As the four members of The Locust come on stage in their regulation locust outfits I hear a few people in the audience murmur “what the fuck” and without a single word the band proceed to tear through most of their newest album New Erections and even find time to play the entirety of the Safety Second, Body Last ep. Their 100mph spazz-core music is fast and brutal enough to tear off faces, but there is such mastery of their instruments that, unlike a few of the idiots in front of me, I can’t help but stand and stare, mouth agape, as they each treat their instruments as an extension of their bodies. After they finish I hear a lot of people wondering aloud what they’ve just witnessed.

The main reason I have dragged myself out, alone, on a Monday night is to witness Fantomas. I have been a huge fan of theirs ever since I heard Amenza en el Mundo when I was still in college and mostly listening to Nu-Metal, they opened up my ears to a whole new world of ‘extreme’ music and until now I have always missed them when they’ve played. Mike Patton is also one of my heroes. Incredibly prolific he has worked with so many amazing musicians, including Bjork, Rahzel, John Zorn, and Kaada, and created so many brilliant side-projects that it’s almost unbelievable that he has time to run the always excellent record label Ipecac. I was so upset that I’d be missing him curate ATP this year but knowing that I’d at least get to see Fantomas softened the blow somewhat. As they slowly set up the front of the stage becomes more and more crowded with people. It’s a strange crowd, mostly men but from all different walks of life, a lot of ‘metalers’ but I also see a group of guys who wouldn’t look out of place in a Walkabout on a Saturday night. As the members of Fantomas walk onto the stage a huge roar goes up for Mike Patton, and boy does he look happy. Tonight they will be performing their album Directors Cut in its entirety, as part of ATP’s series of Don’t Look Back gigs. For those of you who have never heard it it’s a re-imagining of various music soundtracks from the well known The Godfather and Rosemary’s Baby to the more obscure Charade and Investigations of a Citizen Above Suspicion all done in the trademark Fantomas style. Not only does Mike Patton take on vocal duties but Buzz Osbourne of The Melvins is on guitar, Trevor Dunn of Mr Bungle, as well as his own solo work, plays bass and taking over from Dave Lombardo, Slayer, on drums is Dale Crover also from The Melvins.

Beginning with the chilling intro to The Godfather played on the melodica they soon launch into the song proper. Fantomas’ music is a mixture of extremely fast speed/death metal, avant-garde jazz and almost everything in between. With Mike Patton variously crooning, singing and making extremely strange noises using only his mouth and two microphones with different pitch modulators on them. The crowd keep going crazy, especially during Spider Baby which is like a chilling version of The Monster Mash. The highlight of the set for me is when they play Rosemary’s Baby which is even more chilling than the original version, particularly the shouted/screamed last line of “what…have they done…too…HIS EYES!” which has a group of people seemingly beating the shit out of each other. Each song passes by in a frenzy of riffs, intense displays of drumming, and of course Mikes own brand of vocalisations. It doesn’t feel like too long before they have finished all the songs from the record and are ready to depart. They return to do a cover of a song I don’t recognise but it gives Patton a chance to croon his heart out before the band launch into another frenzy of shattered riffs and double bass drumming. I leave the venue wearing a huge smile on my face, incredibly pleased that I have finally witnessed of my heroes doing what he does best.