When I attended Deer Shed Festival a couple of months ago, KEG were the last band I saw. Standing on the rail of the festival’s smaller stage, I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening when the 3 million band members poured out onto the stage looking like a bunch of randoms who couldn’t possibly be friends let alone bandmates. You had the big man in the suit. The skinhead with his top off. The guy with the crazy hair, and the bloke who looks almost identical to that stoner we all know from the park back home. And then then other 2.99 million of them. If a band had ever looked like they were going to be a disjointed mess, then this was the one. And then they started playing. When music is this raucous, this chaotic, and this loud – it is often easy to miss just how coherent and expertly crafted it is. But while KEG blasted out their short and powerful set, it was clear that this random bunch belonged together. Their energy and chemistry were infectious as hell.
But how would that performance transform to record? I had the chance to find out just a few weeks later, when they released this six track EP by the name of Girders. So much about their style and their mantra is clear from opening song, ‘5/4’, a track which mixes a claustrophobic and intense opening minute with hilarious lyrics, interesting and unexpected instrumentation, and a mishmash of genres that we will see throughout the six songs. Title song ‘Girders’ follows. This one flies straight in with the energy, mixing obvious post-punk and Talking Heads influences but bringing so much of their own personality and verve that you can’t help but get sucked in.
If there’s ever a mellow moment on this frantic EP, then it’s probably during ‘Sing Again’ which is as close as KEG come to indie rock rather than post-punk. But don’t let that put you off. There’s some great work on the brass instruments and the keys that make this song stand out, and the repeated refrain of ‘I forgot to sing again’ is as close as we get to an earworm here. If (and when) this band get big, ‘Elephant’ will be the song that haters use to claim that they don’t have good lyrics and just shout out words at random intervals. It’s a little hard to argue with that on the evidence of just this song. But if you aren’t a pompous arsehole, there’s no way you can listen to ‘Elephant’ and not have a ridiculous amount of fun. Luckily, I’m not a pompous arsehole. I promise.
We then come to the definite highlight of the piece with ‘Kids’. And if ‘Elephant’ leads to accusations of them not having anything to say, then ‘Kids’ can be evidence that they are dealing with the things that really matter. Like telling their kids that Michael McIntyre isn’t funny and that they can fuck off if they want anything other than sandwiches and crisps in their packed lunch. In total seriousness, though, this is a hilarious song from the viewpoint of a pissed off parent on the edge, frustrated at the general day to day expectations placed on them and the final verse is one of my favourite things I’ve heard all year. ‘Go and smoke some weed on your own!’ Brilliant.
‘NPC’ closes the EP and is as exciting and interesting as everything that comes before it. In a year when intriguing and fresh post-punk releases have dried up in comparison to the three or four years previous, Girders is the release I’ve been waiting for. It does everything the genre is good at. Humour, ferocity, tight instrumentation, an exciting frontperson, lyrics that can make you laugh and think in the same breath, and a fuck ton of personality to top it all off. This is the best release in the genre since Squid’s Bright Green Field early in 2021, and if there was a band I was going to compare them to from recent times then Squid would be the one. Keep an eye on KEG over the next couple of years – I’m putting money on an explosion.
Words by Fran Slater