Gonzo 5th Birthday Party

15 January 2008

MTV2’s Gonzo, the music show that propelled Zane Lowe to DJ Stardom, could never throw your standard birthday party. Yes, there was cake and ice cream. There were even, for some cruel reason, clowns. But subverting the 5th birthday template was the order of the night. Sets by Gallows and Queens of the Stone Age (frontman Josh Homme pictured left) served to blast the tiny Shepherd’s Bush Pavilion into the early hours of Friday morning. Well, it certainly beats losing at Pass the Parcel. First up Gallows (pictured right), waving the flag for British Punk, smash through a 40 minute set tightened by months on the gruelling US Warped Tour. Frontman Frank Carter, apparently not content with flinging himself around the stage, takes off through the crowd halfway into the set and ends In the Belly of a Shark halfway up a camera rig. The band were joined by rapper Lethal Bizzle for their closing number, single Staring at the Rude Bois, and the punk spirit was kept alive by disassembling MTV’s drumkit and distributing it to the audience.

A half hour break, soundtracked by Maximo Park at the decks, and Queens of the Stone Age take to the stage, the painfully self-aware industry crowd morphing unexpectedly into a surging mass exhibiting about as much restraint as a room of 14-year-old indie scenesters invited to Pete’n’Carl’s Libertines reunion. And with good reason: the schizophrenic half-dance/half-metal drum lines that make Queens the hybrid genius that they are smashed into relentlessly distorted riffing and rendered tracks from Era Vulgaris – their most recent album – mercilessly intense.All about challenging expectations, QOTSA roll out glorious new single Make it Wit Chu to get the crowd grooving, before old favourites Go With the Flow and Feel Good Hit of the Summer – with a tongue-in-cheek cover of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab by way of an intro – make an appearance. ‘I hope you all get laid tonight’, Homme says, in parting, making way for birthday boy Zane Lowe to DJ for a dancefloor populated by the likes of The Cribs, Franz Ferdinand and, um, Kelly ‘Stereophonics’ Jones.

All in all, then, a night of contradictions – Britain’s hottest punk band playing in support of the music world’s favourite corporate villains, jelly and icecream laid out alongside Jagermeister, and evil clowns lurking behind balloons – all succeed in providing a fitting tribute to Gonzo’s five years of unpredictable DIY music coverage. Josh Homme summed it up: “I thought this was some TV thing. It’s a f*ckin’ party!”