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‘London’s Best Band’, Black Midi arrives in Jersey City | Test

The one thing certain about the hugely popular British guitar band in tiny black midi seems to be that they will always surprise you.

Find out for yourself when the band performs at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City on Saturday, April 2. Named by the English NME as “the best band in London” before releasing a single single, the midi noir rose to the forefront of British guitar rock. in 2019 with “Schlagenheim” on Rough Trade Records, an album of guitar bursts that blended prog-rock, post-punk, free jazz, mind-blowing musicality, “Jabberwocky” gibberish and political protest.

2021’s sequel “Cavalcade” upped the ante, adding sax, fiddle and keyboards and venturing even further away from the mainstream and into the realm of shocking (and thrilling) novelty.

“Forget trying to reach out with a poppy lead single,” Pitchfork said. “Black midi doesn’t seem to be trying to reach anyone.”

And now, as the band finally hit the road behind “Cavalcade” after a pandemic-induced delay, black midi has graced us with “Cavalcovers,” a three-song EP featuring covers from King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, and (! ) Taylor Swift – the deity of progressive rock, the most legendary weirdo of the underground and the current queen of mainstream pop.

There’s a message there, as if these three remarkable young men were staking out their territory and letting us know that they had no intention of stopping until they conquered the universe.

The current stripped-down lineup consists of gruff-voiced vocalist/guitarist Geordie Greep, bassist/vocalist Cameron Picton and drummer extraordinaire Morgan Simpson.

Picton graciously took the time to chat via Zoom, reacting to the whirlwind of the band’s early years in the spotlight and the unexpected critical praise and popular support Black Midi received at home and abroad.

“I don’t think we expected this big hit in the United States so quickly,” Picton said. “We thought we had gotten the buzz on the local scene in London, sort of by word of mouth, so it wasn’t unexpected once we started doing medium-sized venues because, you know, there was already a decent base. But I think the most surprising thing that probably any of us would have predicted – other than the band being successful in the first place – is that we would be more successful in America than in UK. This seems to be our main region of success.

British band Black Noon, coming to White Eagle Hall in Jersey City on Saturday April 2, often uses cartoon depictions of its members. (StudioAnthrox)Studio Anthrox

The American music press has certainly helped build black midi followers, but the summer festival circuit — or at least, what existed of it during the pandemic — is where the band really took off.

“We certainly have a lot of good press in America, but I think the live shows were the best way to get to know us,” Picton said. “Especially considering that for rock music, where it’s happening right now is live performance, and most of the money people make is from touring or whatever.

“In the summer, the kids like to go to all the festivals and have fun, and then during the school year, they go out to see the bands they like the most at the festivals,” he continued. “That’s how it goes. And it’s just, like, yeah, we’re really good at live.

Picton was somewhat hesitant, however, at the press’s insinuation that much of their breakthrough debut was due to improvisation; that they were, in fact, a prog-punk jam band.

“It was always weird to hear that stuff, sometimes we’d get questions from journalists about the improvisation of the first album and we were like, ‘How did you put that in your head when you hear that music because it definitely has a structure to it?’ There’s only a small track on ‘Schlagenheim’ that’s improvised and there are a few tracks on ‘Cavalcade’, but those are just the fade out parts.

The same goes for live performances. The songs have structure, the sets vary from night to night, but the band often seems to be falling out.

“We never wanted to have any space between songs, and we weren’t really sure about talking to the public, so we just thought the best thing to do is whenever there’s some kind of ‘space to start playing something, and then everyone starts playing, and then you get into a good beat,” Picton explained. “And then you’re ready to do the next song.

White Eagle Hall is located at 337 Newark Ave., Jersey City. British multi-instrumentalist Nnamdi is set to open for black midi. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available at whiteeaglehalljc.com.

LIVE MUSIC SCHEDULE

Get ready for Knife City, a new supergroup from Jersey City debuting at The Pet Shop, 913 Newark Ave., Jersey City on Thursday, March 31. The group includes brothers Dave and Gregg Leto of the Rye Coalition, as well as Pat Lally and Jeff Feinberg of the Hudson Town Rats.

Another local supergroup, Pariiah (featuring Paul Andress of Nolan Gate and Mothman, Adam Paterson of JC Tattoo and Changeorder, and Brian Meehan of Kill Your Idols), will also appear on the free 8 p.m. show.

To complete the line-up, Gunboat, a young hardcore band from Virginia. Bring earplugs and expect a night of post-hardcore noise punk metal.

Check out Jim Testa’s Facebook page, facebook.com/Constant-Listener-Jim-Testa-On-Hudson-Music-108591071738628. He can also be reached at [email protected].