In Wonderland: Screaming Tea Party, Bar Rumba

“At any rate I’ll never go THERE again!’ said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. `It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!’
– Alice in Wonderland

Wednesday night. I am alone, both big and small at the same time like Alice down the Rabbit hole; I’m at Bar Rumba in Shaftesbury Avenue. “Drink Me?” asks Alice to the bottle. Oh yeah, I think I will, I’m in the mood for a riddle.

But every time I try to leave for the bar, I can’t – what if I miss something? – what are they doing? Oh, I know this song, I think… what’s going to happen next? Alice might not like a Tea Party, but I do. Especially one like this: a peculiarly-deranged, Screaming Tea Party.

This is not your average fairytale: it is a hyper collection of vicious riffs and scary lullabies. The band is based in London, but it feels like a trip inside the Manga story, Abandon the Old in Tokyo. The bassist/singer is in a sexy sarong, yet the guitarist is shredding his gaffa-taped axe and wears a black kerchief over his face. Then there’s the very lovely kawaii-des-ne? girl on the drums that sorta makes your heart melt.

Every expectation is berzerked: kamikaze-like jumping from amps, old punk favourites readdressed like they OWN it, yet out of nowhere, a touch of the cymbal so soft it’s painful; like a sweet lotion after an aural thrashing. The set itself became a fascinating riddle: Death Egg, a futuristic lullaby contrasts with the London punk redux of Between air and air. Like all good songs they are familiar, yet new and uncanny; I found myself saying, in my best nineteenth century voice, “That is very curious!”

I didn’t leave the set for a drink… which is a very good sign at a gig, even if it is rather strange for a tea party. But it makes perfect sense at a Screaming Tea Party. What will they do next? Curious and curiouser – and, unlike Alice, I definitely want to go again. And get a bit stupid.

Link: Screaming Tea Party’s myspace

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