CULTURE

Indie acts set to storm Athens

With the winter season beginning to creep in, a string of promising indie-rock gigs, many by acts visiting Greece for the first time, have been announced for the coming weeks and months. The agenda includes the noted German prog-rock band Faust, who play in Athens this week; intriguing New York transgender act Baby Dee; Glen Matlock, the original bassist of the Sex Pistols who was controversially fired to make way for Sid Vicious; former Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwall; Martin Rev of Suicide, as well two more recent cult acts from the USA, Eleventh Dream Day and Sparklehorse. Originally formed in the early 1970s, the German act Faust, booked for a performance this Thursday at the Underworld Club (Themistocleous & 5 Gamveta, Exarchia), went on to become a pivotal act in rock history. Commenting on the band’s influence in his book «Krautrocksdampler,» English psychedelic rocker Julian Cope wrote: «There is no group more mythical than Faust.» Formed by Uwe Nettelbeck, previously a music journalist, the band spent its embryonic days in isolation at an old schoolhouse that Nettelbeck converted into a recording studio in order to hone their primitive sound with help from the likes of Tony Conrad, a member of New York avant-garde act The Dream Syndicate in the mid-1960s. The German act developed an original sound, featuring plenty of ambient and industrial textures. By the mid-1970s, following several releases, Nettelbeck had turned his attention away from the band, which led to its split. But the band did occasionally play together in various reincarnations, and officially reunited in the 1990s for a handful of European shows, without Nettelbeck on board. In 1993, they played their first US show, backing Conrad, a recent visitor here, who was a pioneering figure in experimental drone sounds that heavily influenced artists such as John Cale, who went on to work with the Velvet Underground after teaming up with Conrad in The Dream Syndicate. Since the previous decade’s reunion, Faust have released a handful of new albums. Matlock of the Sex Pistols, booked for the Underworld Club on October 14, ranks as one of rock’s more overlooked figures. At the time of his sacking from the legendary English punk group, rumors were rife that he was ousted because he liked the Beatles, which was probably just another outrageous, even comical, publicity stunt by the notorious band. Matlock, who possessed the strongest melodic sensibility of anyone in the group, was an important part of the Pistols’ songwriting chemistry. Though he left the group in 1977, before the act’s debut album was completed, Matlock was rehired to complete most of the album’s bass tracks. Following his departure, Matlock formed his own punk-pop outfit, the Rich Kids, which also featured the future Ultravox singer Midge Ure, while other collaborations over the years have included work with Iggy Pop, The Damned, Johnny Thunders, and Primal Scream. More recently, Matlock toured with Dead Men Walking, a quartet of acoustic guitar-playing punk-era veterans, whose line-up included Mike Peters of the Alarm. Baby Dee, booked for two nights on October 11 and 12 at Mousiko Spiti Diavlos (9 Drakou, Koukaki), had also performed recently, just ahead of last summer, both as a solo act and as a member of the dark-wave collective Current 93. As highlighted by the act’s recent solo show in Athens, Baby Dee, a transgender street legend, ranks as a truly authentic writer and performer with the ability to transform emotional pain into rare melodic beauty and delicacy. A classically trained harpist, Baby Dee, who was born in 1953 in Cleveland, Ohio, has, in the past, done circus sideshows, worked as music director and organist for a Catholic church in the Bronx, and, more recently, became a fixture in Lower Manhattan, New York City, for her street act on a high-rise tricycle with a concert harp. The artist’s limited number releases include the debut record «Little Window,» which was put out in 2001, and «Love’s Small Song,» a double CD, released a year later. Cornwall, the original frontman of The Stranglers, who left the band in the early 1990s, has been booked for Underworld for November 19. The Stranglers, contrary to Cornwall’s expectations following his departure, have carried on, basing much of their touring repertoire on the band’s early classics, for which Cornwall was pivotal. Inevitably, the parallel activity has been a source of conflict between the two sides over the years. Cornwall first played here, with the Stranglers, 21 years ago, at the capital’s first major rock festival, Rock in Athens. He returned for a solo gig in the mid-1990s, performing to a far smaller club crowd, with a handful of solo releases in the bag. Other upcoming shows include Martin Rev, who makes up one half of Suicide, a leading act in electronic post-punk. Rev is scheduled for a night at Underworld on November 18. Post-punk Chicago band Eleventh Day Dream have been booked for two shows at the same venue, on October 19 and 20. Sparklehorse, from Virginia, USA, whose latest album includes contribution from Tom Waits, have been booked for November 9, also at Underworld. Red Krayola, one of the longest-lived underground rock groups, stretching from the psychedelic 1960s to the more recent post-punk movement, are also rumored for a show in Athens, one of just a handful being considered for Europe. But the show’s promoter has yet to release details.