The band name had a ‘k’ in it…

Liverpool has been home to many great night clubs and club nights over the years – I have been at a lot of them. Initially, when this ‘situation’ was announced, there were three events over three days, but bonuses were soon thrown in. At the start of the experience was the ‘book stamping’ and at the end will be a presentation by the conceptual architect, Paul Sullivan. In between, is the penultimate happening – ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages – Graduation Ball’. All 400 ticket holders / wristbanders have entry to this event at no extra cost and there are also tickets available on general sale. By all accounts, this is a club night to celebrate the close of the main events. The DJ line-up is superb with DJ Greg Wilson and DJ Food taking control on the night. The world premier of the full 69 min directors cut of the JAMs film ‘2023: what the fuuk is going on?’ is also included as is the ‘farewell debut’ of unknown band ‘Badger Kull’ who will reportedly play live for three minutes only, performing their one and only song…

badger kull - pete woodhead

The Invisible Wind Factory is the venue for the celebrations. The doors kick open at 10.00pm and opposite the entrance you can seen the pyre expire. It has been quite a day – supermarket trolleys borrowed, volunteers face painted and robed, a choir assembled, Jarvis Cocker moving people to tears with a version of ‘Justified and Ancient’, the JAMs unveil that they now have a responsibility as undertakers, an Ice Kream Van is towed, Koffins carried, there is a procession through the streets of Liverpool, ragwort is scattered, banners are carried, skulls soar the streets, koffins are burned and people find themselves buying bricks to sign up their ashes to form a pyramid…

We all have to explain this to friends and family when this is over…

I enter the venue around 10.30pm. It feels good – definite warehouse rave vibe to it and a crisp sound system. It is already busy and the crowd is… well, alternative. The ‘volunteers’ are the majority, covered in white and black face paint, yellow kagools and some are carrying staffs, their immortality bricks and K2 merchandise. The minority are.. well, normal looking. Greg Wilson is working things up and setting a nice atmosphere with his trademark selection of edits, electro, disco and funk. Every know and again The JAMs / The KLF are referenced to tease the mood.

Personally, I am keen to see the film premier. The idea of stopping a club night to show a movie really appeals to me. From what I understand, Badger Kull are due at midnight. As for what time ‘2023: what the fuuk is going on?’ is going to be screened – nobody seems to know.

Behind the stage and DJ, three screens are lined up next to each other. Since entering, these have been inactive. However, whilst Greg Wilson is warming things up, a roar ripples through the crowd – visuals are appearing on each of the three screens in a triptych fashion. These correspond with footage that had been teased in trailers leading up to these Dark Ages. I assume that these are some form of trailer… because their had been no introduction AND the DJ was still playing. There were visuals on the screens but the audio was very much that of the wheels of steel. However, the visuals surpass usual trailer length. Is this the film? Is this how you premiere a film at a club night? Is this the context it is meant to be viewed? There certainly does not appear to be a contemporary narrative. If anything the movie looks more like a VJ at work as we see imagery of pyramids, Putin, foxes, fire and eyeballs flitter in and out. It is hard to know the duration but it does not appear to be 69 minutes. Of course, the fans know that the length is triple 23 and so speculation is that each screen is a 23 minute visual entity with the sum of the screens totalling the advertised running time. Eventually the film stops. Something similar had been shown at The Florrie earlier that day but this had sound and apparently may have differed in duration. We are left unclear as to what we just saw. It feels very underwhelming. Perhaps the film will make more sense as a companion piece to the book? If indeed that was the film we just watched…

2023 premier

Midnight is approaching and anticipation is growing for the arrival of Badger Kull. You know them – they are huge – they are all over social media – KLF fans love them (despite nobody having ever heard any of their music). Oliver Senton takes over proceedings and even in a club context, his theatrical tones still do the magic as he whips the crowd up into a furore. And the moment is here, four bass players in Badger masks and outfits take to the stage. They look awesome! A sea of arms raise their phones to capture this ‘historic’ moment. The band had been under the guidance of Pete Wylie (Wah!) and this was a brainchild of The JAMs – surely this would be special. Initially when the jobs were revealed at Constellations, a choir was also formed – but it turns out their role was not to support this band, but Jarvis Cocker instead. Badger Kull set off – it was intense, pulsating looped percussion driving things on whilst the four bass players strummed one note repeatedly. It was a hypnotic and energetic intro… It will kick in at any moment… It didn’t… But they did occasionally chant the one lyric (which for ease of memory was also the song title) ‘Toxteth Day Of The Dead’. The loop played out for three minutes and then it was over. The second underwhelming event of the evening had arrived. But this band were never designed to be amazing. Bill and Jimmy were making a statement…

Prior to the band arriving, a merchandise stall had been selling (bootleg?) t-shirts of the band. These appeared to be very popular. The table where this was housed was then taken over by The JAMs as they issued Graduation Certificates to the ‘volunteers’ who had to enter their names and then Cauty and Drummond would sign the A4 documentation to make it official that you were out of the Dark Ages. Having not ‘signed’ any books at their launch earlier in the week, this seemed quite a departure for the pair. Everybody took their opportunity to get ink on paper whilst they could. Those that missed out were informed they could get their certificates the following morning at the Dead Perch.

DJ Food took to the turntables and despite many departing after the band, he went down very well playing a broad selection of classics like Orbital’s ‘Chime’ next to gems like RSL ‘Wesley Music’ alongside a hefty selection of The KLF / The JAMs reference points. The dancefloor was locked in tune after tune. Much like Greg Wilson before him, memories were been evoked that related directly to those on the dancefloor. Personally, I am over familiar with the selections (as much as I love the tracks) and crave some fresh material – but I appreciate that this is not the time, environment or audience for such adventurism.

It was made explicitly clear that Bill and Jimmy would not be performing any music at this ‘situation’. It is also well understood that they left the music industry many years ago. So what was the agenda with Badger Kull?

It seems to be a parody of the music industry…

Had we all been part of a post-KLF attack on the industry they ran riot in?

Not much had been said about the humour of our protagonists. In fact, during the public hearing, many of those close to them (Drummond in particular) stated they were not the most fun pair to be around. However, much of their work has humour in it (what else could Solid Gold Chartbusters be) and the Badger Kull narrative very much seems to embody this. If you go back to the allocation of jobs, there was a lot dedicated to this four-piece bass ensemble. They had a manager, a roadie, a poster designer, hardcore fans, flyposter team, stylist, costumes and direction from Pete Wylie. Any band would get a degree of success with that kind of machine by them…

Here we literally have the pair that wrote the handbook on how to have a number one record orchestrating proceedings. Was this exercise with this manufactured band a comment on how hype, media and social media can take something lacking substance far further than it deserves? The musicians involved are likely to be accomplished but the agenda set out for them was not to showcase their abilities. The song (if it warrants that term) was a looped jam / the basis of an idea at best. It was never meant to be great or memorable. In some ways, it feels like Badger Kull may have even been a version of how Jimmy and Bill see their past in the industry. It had been noted in the public hearing that success had become too easy for them in the late 80s / early 90s. So they killed off their various musical personas. And here, we have a band they created, a band that had all the industry hoo-ha around them (like they did), a song made with the bare minimum (Drummond has previously stated they tried to make music without musicians) and then they killed this band off after one performance. There appears to be a mirrored timeline here. Was this all some kind of cathartic release? They certainly intended for it to have some kind of allegiance to themselves – the band name deliberately uses a ‘K’ within it… And that stood for ‘cull’…

Furthermore, the song duration was three minutes – the length of your common pop song…

Within the space of a few hours we had seen the death of whatever was in the koffins and now of Badger Kull. No coincidence. With the unveiling of the People’s Pyramid, the theme of death has become central to these events (we had book destruction earlier at The Bombed Out Church and the destruction of £1,000,000 featured too). But we have also seen the themes of reinvention, transformation and reincarnation come to the fore. Interestingly, as much as Badger Kull seems to be part parody, part attack on the music industry and part self deprecation, it is linked closely to their future work as Undertakers to the Underworld. The song title ‘Toxteth Day Of The Dead’ is now going to be an annual event on November 23rd where all those who died in the past year and have had their ashes committed to their bricks, will be added to the pyramid. This almost makes the song an anthem! It seems odd to link the two narratives in this way…

However, the band known as Badger Kull now cease to exist, the musical aspirations of Cauty and Drummond are in the past. The future is death. And these guys just got in their earlier than most…

Like the music world and the art world before, they are now looking to change our perspectives, thoughts and feelings on departure from this world whilst steering into a communal, artistic and architectural direction for it. If this is the future, then the past life may just be worth evolving from…

 

Badger Kull Fly Poster Photo courtesy of: P. Woodhead

2023 Screening Photo courtesy of: Badger Kull bandfans @BadgerKull

Badger Kull live Photo courtesy of: Badger Kull bandfans @BadgerKull

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