Hate it when venue’s tell ya doors are 8pm so you get there at 8.20 & boom, you missed the first band coz doors actually opened at 7.30.
So missed Atomic Hero which was sad coz every other band on tonight was dope so it follows that the chances are they were too. Wasn’t really expecting this to be so good a night as it was as melodic punk aint really the stuff that floats me boat so much but the collective weight of the bands pulled off a goodun.
Gotta be honest tho it did leave me thinking Sharks, who work in a similar genre field, should come along & see how it should be done. Actually ALL the bands that played when I saw Sharks play should come & check out ALL the bands who played last night. Esp that Corwallish bunch of Pogues wannabe’s. Still reeling from the 4 songs of their set I managed to watch before bailing.
Weird audience, didn’t recognise / know anyone at all. They appeared to be really enjoying it but sedately. No dancing really let alone a moshpit & despite Mike Herrera’s best efforts to get everyone going (and dude was one great motivator & fronts person) no one really got their shit on till the v end.
This iteration of MxPx were actually just Mike Herrera backed by Cancer which actually worked pretty well. Cancer were really good on their own, edgier than MxPx, probably more my kinda shit really. And Southampton’s Our Time Down Here were also pretty good, a powerful, energetic sound, solid, by the numbers hardcore (by which I don’t mean boring i mean adept). There’s melodies in there but not fucking “treat you like an idiot” melodies. Check their Bandcamp for a stream of their latest album ting (Our Time Down Here) - it’s good stuff.
Sounded like half the people in the audience were from Wales which’d explain why I didn’t know many people. That & the fact that I just don’t know many people anyway.
MxPx played a really long set. Over an hour. But punctuated by around 4 /5 acoustic songs mid set. That fucking Frank Turner’s got a lot to answer for. If i wanted to listen to acoustic music I’d fucking go listen to radio 2’s folk program with mike harding (which i occasionally do). Leave the fucking acoustic shit to people who specialise in it yeah & hit me with some more, full on balls to the wall / floor hardcore pleeeeease. Sheesh.
Anyway, the full band came back on & finished with a load of requests.It was probably the best part of the evening. Even an ikkle ruckus cracked off between a couple of dudes (a mini moshpit if you like). That Mike Herrera’s one charismatic dude & no mistake. Great banter. And yeah, great evening too I guess.
(There’s a free download link at foot of t’page, go check it out then come back & read the below).
There’s a reason Helmet gigs are legendary. Tonight I found out why. So much fucking power. And stamina. They came on, played 4 tracks, then played the whole of their "Meantime" album, (it’s Meantime’s 20th anniversary this year) starting with the last track on side 2 and working backwards to track 1, side 1. The drummer cocked up though, missed one track. So they played us a bonus track. Then they went off, we all chanted “HELMET, HELMET” a bit & they came back for another 4 / 5 songs (I lost count). An hour & a half of pure unadulterated eyeball frying, tearing, crashing mayhem. Good band for my bucks I reckoned.
There was some huge guy stood near the front, a genuine (and possibly the original) immovable mass. I sheltered behind him from most of the moshpit in the most prime position imaginable. It worked really well. Meant I could do my nut dancing, bouncing & shit without worrying about anyone knocking my supporating arm. (Seriously think I’m gonna have to see a doc about my elbow. It’s beginning to look well icky - lemme know if you wanna see a pic). I thanked immovable mass man afterwards. Shook his sweaty hand with my sweaty hand & we neither of us went “eugh” coz, i’m guessing, we woz brought up well.
A few people looked very sniffily at my T-shirt, it being blindingly white with fluorescent pink writing on it spelling the word “BITCHES”. I should’ve been wearing a black T-shirt I think judging by everyone else. #OOS.
First gig I’ve been to where people in the audience have done the devil horn thing with their fingers. Weird. They were probably thinking it was still 1992. Tried to counteract them with some gun fingers like as though i was at a rave at Motion but whenever I do that it looks more like I doing the “bowling a googly” fingers. (Coz I’m british, yo, & cricket’s in my blood, yo).
Cycling home some pissed dude decided to walk out in front of me. Usually when that happens I call out “watch out, cock” but I forgot the “watch out” bit & just shouted out “cock” really loudly. I hope he wasn’t offended or thought I was propositioning him.
I used to have a landlord in Manchester ended every sentence with the word “cock”. It kind of stuck & now I do it too. But only to strangers. If I’ve met you & never down it to you it’s coz you’re not strange. Or I’m lying about doing it.
Same landlord also called a helicopter “a helicuh - a helicuh - a helicuhchop - a helicuhchop - a helicuhchopter” & looked really pleased when he got the final “helicuhchopter” out. Would’ve felt cruel pointing out to him it was actually called a “helicopter”. Fortunately we didn’t embark on many conversations about helicuhchopter’s.
Fighting With Wire were kind of good but a bit like Helmet with 1000 times less intensity.
Page Hamiton’s fucking incredible. I hope I’ve got his fucking drive when I’m over 50. Although something pretty radical will have to happen for that to be the case coz I’ve never had close to that much drive at any time in my life. Mebe I need to learn how to play guitar. And kick shit out of distortion pedals.
Finally the free download. I have a friend on twitter has shed loads of old John Peel recordings. When i mentioned I was going to Helmet he dug out this amazing Peel session they did in 1991, a year before Meantime was released. Download & listen at full volume. Scare the fucking neighbours, someone’s got too right? It also has little bits of Peel talking, introducing the tracks. Never fails to make me well up hearing Peel’s voice. But then I’m pathetic & emotional, you’ll probs be ok. *smiley face emoticon*.
Stupid cunting arsing whoring muthafucking & their shitty fucking software, bleeding twice now I’ve gotten halfway thru this post & fallen foul of a kernel panic losing everything I’d written. (I imagine would counter “what do you expect you stupid cunting arsing whoring muthafucking fuckwit if you live on the bleeding edge downloading beta releases of the next version of OS X from fucking Pirate fucking Bay”. And they’d have a good point.)
Anyway, what’s with Sharks the fish being so much more popular on Tumblr than Sharks the band? Try searching. It’s madness. People eat sharks y’know. Maybe that’s why. Maybe they taste good. There would probably be more blogs on here about Swiss Chard the vegetable than Swiss chard the band if there were a band called “Swiss Chard”.
Highlight of the night was finding there is a band I’ve seen more often than Big Jeff. Yeah, the evening was that good. Jake and the Jellyfish. I only saw their last two songs. Jake’s got a whole band now. Last time he was on his own. It’s an improvement but y’know, still not quite my thing. Sort of set the tone for the night tbh. Bands not quite being my thing.
Crowns had quite an amazingly assured stage presence for a band so young. Charisma. They have the potential, with the right management, to be really successful. And the fact that they managed to score a support on the whole of the Sharks tour suggests that they have got the right management. Folk punk’s i guess the label one should attach to them if one were trying to be polite. And if one were trying to be impolite? Pogues wannabes I guess. Music to jig to, slap your thighs to & generally have a roistering good time to. I managed about 4 songs then slipped off to the sofa in the bar to fiddle with my phone. Absolutely nowt wrong with them, & Big Jeff was doing his nut even more than he usually does his nut, but again, not really my ting.
I spent the Sharks set huddled by the right hand stack of amps, something I’d promised myself never to do again. Tinnitus is one thing if it’s balanced but when one ears ringing twice as much as the other it’s surprisingly annoying. I had me poorly right elbow to protect though y’see & the best way to prevent it from being jolted was to stand next to an immovable mass. All thru Crowns set I was stood next to some lass who kept on dancing into me, jolting me arm & causing me PAIN. Happen that was another reason I couldn’t take more than 4 of their songs.
Whenever people talk about Sharks they liken them to The Clash. Hmmm. They’ve certainly got the catchiness & britishness of the clash but that’s just about it. But then again The Clash were many different bands at many different times, Sharks are far less versatile. Yet, anyway. More I’d say they remind me of turn of the millennium US pop / punk bands. Sometime soon they’ll crossover & will be playing to much bigger audiences than The Croft. Which is great, it takes bands like this to go out & bag new fans for the genre & once they’ve discovered the genre they can backtrack & find some of the really great music under the ‘hardcore / punk’ banner. They played for a good 45 minutes, powering their way through their set, totally entertaining a packed croft back room with their somewhat anthemic songs, most of which were off No Gods. They too have a self confident stage presence, kind of essential these days when bands earn most of their dollar thru playing live.
At the end of the night it seems a bit churlish to dismiss them also as not my kind of thing. Especially as I’ve already said that about every other band that played here. There’s a good chance that by the end of festival season they’ll have boken out proper. In which case it’ll be nice to have been able to say I saw them last night.
Got home from this gig last night and found a link to the above in one of my rss feeds. I would say “sp00ky” but it’s probably not really spooky at all. It’s probably just a coincidence, and not a very unlikely one at that considering Touché Amoré are touring.
Anyway, they played this track last night. It still didn’t have a name. Not one they were willing to divulge anyway. It did sound freaking good though. Rumour has it it’s going to appear on a split with Title Fight which would be ohhhhhhhkayyyyyyyy. (He says, unenthusiastically without really knowing why he’s sounding unenthusiastic coz he likes both those bands).
Other thoughts from the night included the one I always have when I go to Thekla, namely that the place is still run by a bunch of cocking cunts who couldn’t give a flying fuck about live music or fans. This perennial thought was reiterated by some dude seemingly in the employ of the place taping big “crowd surfing strictly prohibited” notices up before Pianos came on. I have no idea why they’d want to stop the crowd from surfing. It’s not as though any damage would happen to the venue & everyone knows what they’re letting themselves in for when they enter “tut pit” (as they used to say in Yorkshire before Thatcher did away with them all) so this seems lame in the extreme. Personally I theorise that they’ve paid the bouncers so that wanted to get some bang for there buck by making them eject people from the venue. A far fetched idea but can you think of owt more likely?
Perhaps not surprisingly towards the end a few people did get stage diving & I was relieved to see the bouncers didn’t barge in. I swear the only real violence I’ve seen in a mosh pit has been when bouncers, who just don’t get it, go barging into a pit thinking they’re going to rescue someone & end up with their fists flailing coz they’re fucking knuckleheads & don’t understand the dynamics of the zone.
I wrote the Thekla an email last year after going to see Cerebral Ballzy play on the top deck. They pulled the power halfway thru one of their songs. It was 9.36 pm. They’d only done about 7 songs (which in Cerebral Ballzy time is obvs ~ 10 mins). I was cross. Fucking cross. In fact I was so cross I wrote an email. Yeah, that cross. Tried to keep it balanced. Said how the venue had the potential to one be the best in Bristol - it’s a nice space, good lighting, good stage, screen for av shows if the band want, powerful smoke machines (altho I dread to think how much they fleece the band to use them) & the acoustics are good. All it needed was the management to remove it’s blinkered “must make dollar” glasses & chill the fuck out about live music & it’d be ok. Got a reply to my email. Which was more than I expected. Till I read it. “Bit busy at the moment, will be in touch after D2D”. Arseholes never got back. I warned them in the letter if they keep on disrespecting live music bands are gonna stop booking. The fact that last night was my first Thekla gig of the year suggests such has come to pass.
Maybe time for another email gloating over how I was right & calling them out over their crowd surfing policy? Think I can be arsed? Fuck no. Obviously this time I’m not quite angry enough to write an email, only angry enough to bitch about on here.
Another thought: sometimes I wonder what I’d do if I had a neck like Jeremy Bolm’s.
Also, generally speaking I prefer it if bands who do covers do something totally unexpected, like from a totally different genre altogether. Having said that TA covering (a bit of) Ape Dos Mil was good.
Pianos Become The Teeth were really impressive live. This was expected coz obviously they’re dope but how good they came across was kind of reinforced as they followed Apologies, I Have None on stage. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that if there’s a band on a billing that’s mike davies rinses the sweet bejesus out of they’re probably gonna be the weakest on the night. You probably reached that conclusion a while back. Bully for you. Still, there was no reason for them to apologise about their being on the billing & to say “you probably think you’re at the wrong gig” was one of the most “huh?” moments of the night for me. I mean, ok, so you may not be in the exact same micro genre of the exact same sub genre of the more general genre but you’re def in the same ballpark dudes. It’s not like you’re supporting Nina Simone or Tokimonsta is it? Apart from that you could tell people were digging your shit an all so, like, what gives?
Anyway, that was a night I’d been looking forward to a while but now I’m sensing I’ve gone on too longs so I’ll finish up.
Think this was possibly gig of the year so far. Yep, that good. I’d been steeling myself for my second psychedelic drooooooning band of the week but found them to be nowhere near as psychedelic as I’d been expecting. Maybe that was because I’d seen White Hills two days previously who were very much the essence of all things psychedelic (in a musical form). So, to conclude before I’ve even really begun the review, it may not have been the best night of psychedelic music I’d witnessed during the week but It was deffo one of the best nights of swirling, building, crashing, driving, wall of sound type noises I’ve seen / heard for some time.
Having concluding before I’ve begun I think I’ll proceed by reviewing the gig back to frontish, headlining band first style.
So there we go, another great cacophonous noise band that I’ve wanted to see for a while & that I can now tick off the ‘list’ as having been seen. I like that this type music is becoming quite popular again (albeit in a minority way and assuming for the length of this review that you can be ‘popular in a minority way’), and I also like that people are referring to it as ‘experimental post rock’ now rather than ‘prog rock’. (Before anyone jumps in & cries something to the effect that how you’re tagged shouldn’t really matter, I agree, in essence, but in reality it kind of does really doesn’t it? It’d make a nonsense of Last.fm’s “stuff we think you’d like” algorithm’s otherwise & I kind of rely on them on occasions when I’m looking for lazily found ‘new soundz’).
Of course, music like this isn’t ever gonna be everyone’s cup of tea (or indeed the majorities cup of tea) but the people who do dig this kind of racket will definitely have Teeth Of The Sea marked down as one of the better proponents of the sound. Four ridiculously talented guys, they’ve now been together as a band long enough so they can kick shit out of their individual pieces of equipment, seemingly totally at random, yet also in perfect harmony with each other.
Proving how talented they are there was a lot of instrument switching going on. There was also the occasional appearance of a trumpet which added a slightly mournful* note to proceedings, although having said that overall the main feeling i was aware of, from quite early on in proceedings, was euphoria & I gave up trying to suppress the grin that kept on appearing on my face early on. (I should maybe point out I wasn’t trying to suppress the grin coz I didn’t want to look like I was enjoying myself, more coz I look a bit simple when I grin). *(With apols to trumpet fans who hate their instrument being stereotyped as ‘mournful’ - I know it isn’t always the case).
I try not to moan on here if I can avoid it but I do always find it a bit sad when a band don’t give us an encore, especially when I enjoy the band as much as this & especially when they finish well short of closing time. Ditto the Ceremony gig from the night before. There should be some rule about this, they played for long enough so there wasn’t a sense of feeling short changed at all, it’s just that having your encore hopes dashed always kind of hurts a bit. One of the most depressing things in life is that ‘soft lights going on, tinny music beginning’ moment at show’s. My problem anyway I guess, I should probably buck up & get real. Or something.
Supporting TOTS were long time South West favourites, the band Big Naturals. They weren’t supposed to be playing according to the Croft’s website so it was a hugely pleasant surprise to arrive & see them (replete with banana’s) setting up in the back room.
Big Naturals are a classic example of a band doing it for the love of the music. There’s no way they’re ever gonna make money doing this. “I’m only being paid £6 for this” one of the band members said when a member of the audience asked them something. It’s a shame though, they deserve if not to be massively famous at least to have a massive core fanbase. Ok, maybe not massive but at least big enough to fill up The Croft’s back room anyway. And that’s expecting less than it sounds because Big Naturals spurn the stage & set up shop right slap bang in the middle of the floor. Yep, where the audience are meant to be. It’s a brilliant ploy & one I’m surprised more bands don’t copy. It brings an intimacy & closeness to the bands crashing tumultuous sound that can’t be beaten. I imagine it could be quite scary to the uninitiated, or even just to those whose ears aren’t already shot to shit through a steady diet of at a least a couple of gigs a week, usually gig’s of a noisy bent. Selfishly, in a way I hope they never do become more popular coz that’d put an end to their setting up in the middle of the venue’s floor.
The fact that Big Naturals have been ‘noise jamming’ together for so long shows as they syncopate their individual cacophonies into one beautiful whole (bollocks, did I just say “syncopate their individual cacophonies into one beautiful whole”? think I need to go for a lie down), something they share with Teeth Of The Sea, for whom they made the perfect support. When I say ‘beautiful’ I should probably qualify that by explaining that I find the sound of huge walloping drums & the nonstop use of distortion pedals, feedback loops, effects boxes & oscillatory things beautiful.
Taking the experimental to the extreme the vocalist shouted some of his vocals through a mouthful of half eaten apple, a new one to me. (I’m presuming this was to achieve a certain sound rather than because he’d mistimed taking a bite out of his apple - fortunately you’ll probably never know if I’ve just made a tit of myself or not). Big Naturals vacillate between performing as a two & as a three piece. They are equally as good both ways. I so wish bands like this could get the recognition they deserve.
Having said that I wish more people were into them they don’t exactly make it easy for fans of their sound. Finding Big Naturals stuff online aint easy. Googling their name without the proviso ‘band’ afterwards brings up lots of pictures of breasts, most of which I suspect aren’t really natural at all (although I can’t deny that they’re invariably ‘big’) (not that I spent much time looking at them of course). Anyway, having found lots of dead ends for the band online & web presences that haven’t been updated for over three years I found the below which I think is them. It certainly sounds like them & if it isn’t then this is what they sound like:
The gig was moved from The Fleece which I think explains the other addition to the nights bill (actually there were two other additions but I missed the first). I’m not 100% sure but I think they rolled the Teeth Of The Sea gig in with the gig that was already planned for that night at The Croft. So between these two distorted noise monsters, playing in the front bar was Elly McCabe, Bristol’s answer to (and I’m sure she gets pissed off with people saying this) Kate Bush (vocals) & Joanna Newsom (harp). She’s been playing since she was 12 & is apparently self taught - a hard to believe fact but one i heard confirmed right from her own mouth so it must be true. She talks about graveyards quite a bit but not in a spooky kind of way, more in a sweet, endearing, funny kind of way (again she’ll probably hate me for saying that too. I’d best probably shut up now). It was rather lovely anyway & I’d certainly urge any fans of the harp pop to check her out. (It may be more accurate to call her style ‘harp folk’ but that doesn’t sound as good when said out loud). Here she was at the Louis a couple of weeks ago anyway:
Pretty sure finding more contrasting gigs to my last two would be difficult. Following the battering at the hands of last Saturdays Fastcore fest at the Gryphon tonight was pretty much both ‘AntiFast’ & ‘AntiCore’.
Bristol indie kids are a weird bunch. For a start they’re not kids. indie “middle aged & older“‘s more like. And they stand very, very still & very very quiet while bands play. ok, once Allo Darlin got into their stride their was a bit of gentle swaying going on (during some of the faster numbers) but that was about it.
I arrived a couple of songs into Our Arthur’s set & had to wonder if anyone had been clapping any of their first songs. Certainly it seemed to be me who was leading any end of song cheers once i had arrived & I’m hardly quick draw mcgraw when it comes to these things. Anyway, my “feigned enthusiasm” whups soon devolved into “slightly sarcastic” whups I’m afraid. Striving for an explanation as to why no one else was excitedly responding to their set I eventually alighted on the possibility that as most of the audience were pressed to the back of the room it’s feasible they were too far away to tell when the songs ended.
Our Arthur were ok anyway. (Yeah, I know, having said all that. But I don’t really feel justified in slagging off music I don’t really ‘get’) (And they were ok, in a slightly bland, ‘worst kind of indie’ way). And that despite the fact that they made me snigger inappropriately. Having finished a gentle number about a school chum who’d killed himself one of the band said ‘thanks for being quiet during that’. The thought “but i thought we were being quiet during ALL the songs” entered my head & I sniggered a tiny bit too loud.
Allo Darlin were good. People actually shuffled to within a metre of the stage & someone else took over the ‘leading the response to the songs’ duties. They played a nice mixed set, mainly off of 2010’s eponymous album, plus a Go-Betweens cover (announcing ‘this is a Go-Betweens cover’ probably got the biggest response of the evening) & essentially it was all quite jolly. (Ugh, ‘jolly’. Ugh).
Oh, and I can definitely confirm they remind me as much of 10,000 Maniacs live as they do recorded, which I grant is weird considering Allo Darlin sing in an Australian accent & 10,000 Maniacs do in a US accent.
Allo Darlin are working on a new album. Last week they released this video which I guess we can assume will be an example of what that album will sound like: