Sheep on Drugs are a dark electro punk duo from the mid-90s. Never mainstream, but, with a small hardcore and dedicated legion of fans, they became notorious for their extreme stage performances. Their sound can only be described as brutal.

I only discovered them because - as an avid tattoo fan and collector - I knew of original founding member, Duncan X, who is one of the most famous tattooists currently working in London. Long since having left the band, he has now been replaced by Caitlin McKenna, who has breathed a fresh lease of into the act.

They seldom play anymore, so when I heard they were playing at a gig at the New Cross Inn, a mere 20 minutes from where I live in Camberwell , it was an opportunity too good to miss.

They were playing on the same night as the also newly reformed Terrorvision, another 90’s band that I have a soft spot for (albeit they are playing at a different venue). Still I've seen Terrorvision before, so tonight Sheep on Drugs win.

When I walk in, the support act, Spucktute, are well into their lively set. The small venue is already pretty full, and there is a lot of expressive dance going on. The place is full of middle-aged punks who really should know better. "Middle aged" is giving them the benefit of the doubt in all honesty; I'm rapidly approaching middle age - some of this lot are old. I'm clearly the youngest face in the room, and that doesn't happen that often anymore. It's an oddly refreshing experience.

In front of the stage a woman throws herself around wildly, a bit like Stacia from Hawkwind. It could actually be her. A rough mathematical calculation estimates that she would probably be around the same age. She's not naked, and not so well-endowed up top, but her are armpits are on display and they are exceptionally hairy. Aggressively so. I try to ignore her and hope she sits down soon before this monstrous sight spoils my whole evening.

The band are playing a good set, and the singer begins a rant about electro disco beats, long black coats and people who listen to the Human League. Ironic, given the music and the clientele on display here tonight.

A man pogo frantically in the audience while a Charles Manson look-a-like stares out into space vacantly. Everyone else looks like refugees from Slimelight and seem to be having a good time, despite the ghostly makeup (mainly worn by the men). The lead singer looks a bit like how I imagined my old headmaster to look in his private life. It’s something of an understatement to say I feel slightly out of place here; leather trousers and Sid Vicious superglue hair abound. Individuality is clearly the order of the day – they are all varieties of hair colour on display, all of them jet-black. Surrounded by men in leather vests, I am the only member of the audience prudent enough to be wearing a sensible autumn jumper.

This is nothing however, compared to the pandemonium when Sheep on Drugs take to the stage. As they stride through the bar and up onto the stage, for a brief moment I think that hell is about to open. A grizzled old man, who looks like a lifetime methadone addict, wildly smacks his crutch against the pillar at the front of the stage. This does not bode will.

“We are Sheep on Drugs and we are here to do you over…,” they shout, before diving into a high-paced, energetic and above all else – noisy – set. Original member, Lee Fraser, casts an imposing figure as indeed does new member, McKenna. This is the kind of environment and atmosphere that Sheep on Drugs thrive on.

They play all the hits – ‘Motorcycle’, ‘A-H and Back Again’, ‘Sex Drive’ and ‘15 Minutes of Fame’. They play many more that I don’t recognize and this makes me think I should revisit the back catalogue – there is some really strong material here. The highlight track of the show comes mid-set when they play a cover of the Velvet Underground’s ‘Waiting for My Man’, accompanied by a frantic Drum ‘n’ Bass backing track. A moment of sublime genius.

A young bloke staggers into the toilet and emerges moments later with a four-letter swear word scrawled on his forehead in felt tip pen, and I know the end is nigh. This is has been a great event – funny and thrilling in equal measure – and I hope to see Sheep on Drugs touring more often in the future.

For the last track of the night, the band strip topless and spray paint their torsos with black, and I know it really is the end. And then a drunken man falls over.

I can’t think of a better way to end the night than that.











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Commenting On: New Cross Inn, London, 13/10/2012 - Sheep on Drugs








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