Zero Cipher

Saturday 2nd September, 2000 - The West End Centre, Aldershot, ENGLAND.
Another new venue for me, the West End Centre seems to be a quite well organised place and there was a good turn out with a friendly enough atmosphere.  Unfortunately, we were running a bit late, due to a day packed with events that seemed to have us struggling to fit everything in, and as a consequence we missed most of the opening bands set.

That was a band called Audit, who are a young bunch of blokes who play some enthusiastic nu-metal/ hardcore.  We only caught the last two songs, but that did included the entertaining "What's Up?", which was their closing number and has (I understand), become a bit of an anthem for them.   It tells of the problems that the younger Metal fans in the Hampshire area face with drunken "trendy" yobs picking on them.  The two songs weren't anything like enough to get a real idea of what the band is like, but I

Zero Cipher - Duncan - click to enlarge have to say that they were very eager and I reckon they should be worth seeing in the future.

The band due on next was Zero Cipher.  I hadn't seen them live before, although I have actually met Will (Guitar/Vocals) before (and he's a nice geezer) and I'd heard five tracks of tonight's set from their EP.  As a result, I was looking forward to this gig and expectations were set quite high.  I talked with Will before the show and he was slightly nervous but he had enough time to introduce me to Duncan

Zero Cipher - Will and Mason - click to enlarge
(Guitar/Vocals) who was in the process of tuning his guitar and came across as an arse and was extremely rude (*smiles* only joking Duncan).

I left Dunc to his tuning and I thought to myself, "a little fermented liquid will do the trick" so, I curtailed my Zero Ciphering activities, sallied forth, and infiltrated a place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some alcoholic beverages (Ee, Ah woz all thursty-like).  Huh, as if the Harbury Beer Festival (we attended earlier that afternoon on-route to the gig), wasn't enough to suppressed these further compulsions (tish-tish).

Zero Cipher - Ash
Anyway, the Zero Cipher boys opened with a song I'd not heard before called "For The Moment" which I would love to hear again (I had been talking to both Martin and Choff from Snub so it didn't get my full attention, sorry), but I do remember a good strong riff right at the very end of the song.

Next up was the party favourite "Magic Time" which is one of their oldest songs and has become something that they are now expected to play.  This track illustrates particularly well the use of

turntables and samples within their music that help give the band a more individual sound.  Mr Barnaby Whattingham (Force10music) was standing in for Pheonix (the usual bloke on turntables) who was away on holiday, and he did a fine job of it too.

There followed more of the songs from their debut EP (The Negative Bleeds Belief) that included "Drag Me Down", "Simon Said" and "The Face I Love To Hate".  It was quite interesting to see the different personalities in the band.  There were determined efforts from both Will and Duncan, sharing equally the vocal and guitar duties and working together very well.  They put in a fine performance and were really giving it some, with sweat pouring from both of them.   Duncan's long hair (which is amazingly quite a rarity in rock these days) becoming increasingly soaked as the gig progressed and Will looking like he's just taken a swim.   100% was given!  There was a more relaxed approach from Mason (Bass) and Ash (Drums), who still produced a tight sound and looked to be enjoying themselves but with a more laid back air about them, particularly Mason who looked well chilled.

Zero Cipher - Barnaby
Straight from the dying moments of "The Face...." came another new song that was called "Head Of David".  This combined a mixture of beats and tempo's, riffs and screams that I felt showed a more   experimental side of the band and it seemed as though they wanted to gauge the crowds reaction.

Well if what followed next was any gauge then don't play it again for F**Ks sake!!   Some weird goon appeared on stage from nowhere and pull it's trousers down and with either a very small appendage or it tucked away somewhere (or even nothing at all) displayed itself until it was laughed off stage.  Only in Aldershot man!!

Zero Cipher - Duncan and Mason - click to enlarge Anyway, despite the unbooked clown, the song went down well, but so did the entire set.   The crowd had been reacting well all the way through, everyone was enjoying themselves and the place was moving.  In fact at times it was getting pretty violent in that pit and as they went into "A World Dismissed" their last song of the night, it exploded again.  It has to be said that these blokes were staggeringly popular in this manusquire!  However, it seemed in an instant it was all over and the band were thanking the crowd, and both the crowd  Zero Cipher - Will - click to enlarge
and the band were looking pleased with themselves.  Cool.  This is a band to keep a lookout for and I recommend you catch them live if you get the chance, it's well worth it!

There was a short break during which we made a visit to the bar (gosh!) and chatting with a bloke that I met there, discussed the finer points of Rugby Union and the wonderful victory Leicester had over Northampton that day *smile*, this venue was just that sort of a friendly place.

In what only seemed like a few minutes we were greeted by a build-up of feedback through which the dulcet tones of Choff the vocalist from Snub welcomed us to their show.

Snub - Choff and Martin - click to enlarge

"We're Snub from Bournemouth.  Bournemouth is a place full of old people, donkeys on the beach and townie ****, so really we don't like Bournemouth.  We dedicate this gig to all the cider drinkers in the house .... we're gonna tear the f**kin place down, this is 'Memories In Richter'."

Snub - Simon - click to enlarge Snub - Vin Snub - Martin - click to enlarge
The band were straight into their solid hardcore rhythm, a sound that is quite distinctively Snub.  Leading with the strong off-beat drums and bass bloodline, featuring the wickedly intense guitar riffs and of course the harsh unruly vocals that give rise to this astonishing Snub sound.  And looking around, the crowd were immediately into the band and the pit rocked some.
Snub - Choff and Simon - click to enlarge This reaction continued, as now customary airings for stalwart songs such as "Manmade", "Wretched" and "The Cynic" were forthcoming.  Martin 'dynamic' Jeffery on Bass, was really larging it up with a massive performance that showed complete enjoyment and satisfaction, and I don't remember him staying still for more than a few seconds.  It's this natural enthusiasm that shows through and when it does we all benefit.

The drum sound is a important ingredient to the character of this music and Vin Edmonds does not like to disappoint anyone.  His face is often a picture of pure concentration as he guides the song through this particular outing.   A seemingly quiet chap that just likes to get on with it, but gives the occasional smile that lets everyone know he's having a good time.

As the hard and punishing, chunky and powerful cords of "Arson" rage around us, Choff insists that we listen '...burnt to fucking shit, read the writing on the wall, black blood of control, nothing like a fight cause it makes me realise who I am...'.  The

belligerence continues to pour with the forceful attitude of "Raping Angels", as the subject turns to the sick bastards that hide behind Gods cloak of purity.

What gets me about this band is that every time I see them they get better and better.  Yeah, they're getting slicker in their performance, but not just that, they are enjoying themselves more and look increasingly relaxed in what they're doing.  The rapport with the crowd becomes more natural and interactive, and I think this kinda breeds a mutual respect.  They're with us on our level and not some unreachable hero's who expects us to swoon at their feet.  And that is the essence of the hardcore scene, blokes from the street performing to kids from the street about issues that effect us!

Between songs, the ever generous Choff treated us to a reading of personal ads from some porno mag (found backstage, someone said it was Will's) giving opportunities to the less fortunate amongst us, which was received by the crowd almost too acceptably!!   There isn't one particular member of the band that makes it work, they are all important and each one would be

Snub - Simon - click to enlarge
Snub - Choff and Simon - click to enlarge missed because it's a collective, however Choff really brings the pieces together and gels them with the crowd.   He is a excellent front-man and his banter between songs does make a difference as he talks with us, not to us.  He even managed to put out a thanks to me (and embarrassed me again) for, as he so eloquently put it, "coming all the way down from Leicester, just to see us bunch of pricks...".

You could be forgiven for thinking that someone has upset guitarist Simon Smith. He has a very hard and mean look about him on stage.  It is very common to see him straight faced, deeply absorbed, looking angry and growling at the microphone.  He looks like the music sounds, and the blur of fingers produce a torrent of formidable riffs that demand respect (however, I did manage to get a picture of him laughing!)

The mind-set is further demonstrated with "360 Degree Conviction" and finally with a new song called "Six Deep" which has an enraged demeanour that fits in perfectly!  This band feed off the crowd who feed off the band, and tonight it was a feast of gargantuan proportions.

Overall, this was a really excellent and entertaining gig.   Both Zero Cipher and Snub performed well and a good atmosphere just made it that much easier to enjoy the whole evening.  Good bands, good  music, a nice mood and friendly people, what more could you ask?


Note:  All live pictures of the bands are the property of Rigsby and may only be used with prior permission