When a show introduces itself as ‘A drag king punk gig about architecture and idealism! A dysto-utopian noise about The Man!’, it’s obvious that it’s going to be something just a little bit different. Difference is indeed what the curiously titles Cuncrete offers – a punk rock gig about everything from cement to capitalism that is anything but easy on the ears, with music supplied by The Great White Males (the band of drag kings you’ll love to hate) and lead by the ball of sleaze that is Archibald Tactful. He is our god, the architect of everthing around us.
Cuncrete has the raw intimacy of a punk gig that takes days to wash off. The sweat, the attitude, the absolute anarchy – it’s all there, made all the more exceptional and outrageously appealing coming from a band who symbolise ‘The Man’ in their business suits tailored to each of their external roles. The Great White Males are a band of the elite: politicians, property developers. They act with brilliant attitude, utterly believable in their dual roles. Their basslines and guitar riffs are as minimal as they are simple. The description of ‘anti-virtuoso’ is painfully apt, yet their lack of virtuosity provides an intense soundscape for Tactful’s endless stream of consciousness, philosophising and self-acclamation. The drum beats serve to knock in our brains, allowing all of these messages to seep in. This punk intimacy is strengthened still with the gig-like lighting design. Atmospheric and simple, the back and side lighting conjures shadows on the walls which mirror the larger-than-life characters rocking out in front of us.
Tactful makes no illusion of what we are. We’re not him and we’re never going to be him, and we’d better get used to it. We might have jobs, kids and mortgages, but we’re little more than pawns in his worldly design. It’s easy to see what the show is critical of: the great white males of the elite classes who don’t care about us as long as we’re lining their pockets with cash and keeping quiet. That all of this comes through in a punk gig (which left my head hurting and ears ringing for an hour) was something just a little unexpected, and more than a little awesome. Cuncrete used me, abused me, then lit a cigarrette afterwards without so much as a cuddle.