Maybeshewill @ Trillians Rock Bar, Newcastle

9th November 2012

So another night in Newcastle and two of my favourite bands were unhappily playing on the same night. I Shunned the all-out hair metal parody and all round good times of Steel Panther, in orderto be found in the relatively meek surrounds of Trillian’s Rock Bar. Not a bad place actually, a basement pub with plenty of authenticity, you feel the walls have many tales to tell of wild nights in the past.

Tonight there were three young math rock inspired bands out to make an impression. Each at different points down the music career river…

Near the rivers mouth we find the unpredictable, twisting, Human Sacrifice Club at their humble beginnings. A band full of youthful wide eyed enthusiasm and energy whose rawkus duelling math rock riffs presented an unrestricted and thoroughly enjoyable set of melodic indie guitars. Vocals were yelped with a fierce intent as were their numerous noise rock outs. This Jekyll and Hyde set of carefully crafted songs (a la Maps + Atlases) and riotous chaos was as thrilling as it was addictive. I hope the river takes them on the course to a record deal sometime soon, my eyes are peeled!

Gallops

Further down the river are Gallops, who (for purposes of this analogy) are floating along near the mouth. After flowing for some time they have arrived here and in the process have lost much of their earlier power and are happy to sway gently with the tide. Being a predominantly electronic outfit their looped beats were absolutely hypnotic, coasting me to sleep as the loops kicked and the keys tinkled. Only woken by the karrang of the guitars when they interspersed the ambient ramblings. One for a casual listen i feel, but they failed to engage me enough tonight.

Maybeshewill

By contrast Maybeshewill have escaped the repetitive motions of a river and are out in the unhinged wilderness of the ocean. It the same stroke of their thunderous guitars they are ‘The perfect storm’ at the same time stunningly beautiful and immensely powerful like a great force of nature. Waves of massive guitar power chords crash down over the crowd at every turn, turbulence thrashing through the air only to be broken by still and melodic keyboard breaks. But the threat is always menacing and as always it returns to kick your ass once again till the final chord rings. Performance wise these guys have the whole shebang, precise musicianship (even swapping instruments), coordinated head thrashing and bursting energy. Plus they are very polite, even asking very nicely for the crowd to come forwards with a meek restraint in their voice. A thinking man’s heavy rock this was and the crowd demographic of students and oldies backs this claim (for big dumb fun, see Steel Panther above). They played the pick of the tracks from their latest LP including loud/soft rocker Accolades, sweetly tapped lighter waver Red Paper Lanterns and the euphoric piano driven Critical Distance whilst not turning their back on mathier outings such as Japanese Spy Transcript and the epic closer Paris Hilton Sex Tape.

A great mathty “ebb and flow’ of bands, to whom it was hard to ‘wave’ goodbye.

Datarock @ The Garage

3rd October 2011

There is a good reason why clubs are empty on Mondays, and that’s because they fall on a Monday. Tonight we’re in for an 80’s inspired retro night of disco-beats and danceable rock in the sparsely populated Relentless Garage.
The brave few who decided to turn up early for the support band (us included) were not rewarded with a great upcoming talent. Instead we had a Norwegian Duo with two names, two set times and two instruments (Guitar and MacBook Pro). It was tough to tell the difference between their 2 bands Syntax TerrOrkester and Baetur because they were both totally devoid of merit, end of. A very slow start!


Baetur & Syntax TerrOkester (Spot the Difference?)

Thankfully the London based dark pop band Scanners were here to liven the drab scene. Deep and melodic indie rock guitars suited the vocals of Sarah Daly who howled and yelped her way though a lively and emotionally wrought set. Mixing up twinkling chimes and chasm-like guitar reverb they struck an overcast sound that could pull both the heart strings and the ‘let her rip’-cords. Packing in plenty of cool tunes such as the sweet Baby Blue, darkly acoustic Salvation and the firecracker set closer Raw these guys turned round the nights fortunes.

Scanners

Soon the crowd swelled with red tracksuit’s in anticipation of the headline act, who burst on to stage in their own matching set. Datarock, looking like 80’s fools they kicked into their unique tongue in cheek disco mayhem. Yet something wasn’t right. Whether it was the sparse crowd, the over the top calls to go crazy (on a monday!), the sound balance (low guitars and non-existent bass) or just poor performance, the set was not going well for these norse dance vikings. Yet in one divine moment of inspiration it all changed…

“Everybody come in close (we know its a Monday) but please we have a 360 camera and were gonna film the video for our new song California”

I an instant the vibe changed from social club toe tapping to hedonistic clubbing heaven. Following up this with the introduction of Happy Mondays Dancer Bez and Guitarist Kav, guesting on a hypersonic and massively extended version of Fa-Fa-Fa, this was the shot in the arm this show needed. From here they never looked back, adding more and more urgency with their relentless party tunes including I Used To Dance With My Daddy and their biggest hit Computer Camp Love.

Datarock
Returning from a short set break, I witnessed what I can only accept as a dream. Their drummer led a karaoke version of the cheesiest song that has ever…or will ever exist, I’ve Had The Time Of My Life! It was complete with band members jumping into the crowd to lead the tune and they even managed to throw in the Sax solo to boot. But like I said. I never saw it. It didn’t happen. I didn’t embrace the cheese. I most definitely did not sing along 😉


Bez – “doin the MADchester Dance

Nevertheless, crime to music everywhere ignored, this was a thoroughly enjoyable set from a fun time band who never take themselves too seriously (if that wasn’t obvious enough already!).

Death From Above 1979 @ The Forum

6th May 2011

Noisey/Dance Punk duo Death From Above 1979 are back!

After a 5 year hiatus, tonight was the night of the long awaited (and unexpected) return to the live circuit for the first of their two night stand in the Kentish town Forum. From the doors opening, a stampede of eager fans bulked out the venue giving a great chance for a support band to make a name for themselves.

After missing out on Young Legionnaire, we squeezed ourselves in to catch the second act Jamaica. This electro guitar band’s melodies few and far between, they lacked any bass slapping gusto or dance fever to ignite their tunes. It was really very ordinary and failed to make even the slightest impression on our resident dance muso The Docktor. An opportunity well and truly spurned.

Jamaica

As the moment of arrival drew ever closer, so did the crowd…intimate is not a word I would usually associate with The Forum, but tonight you could barely move. Cue the smoke machines and madness ensued as those first distinctive Death From Above 1979 fuzzy bass lines were pummeled through our collective consciousness. Not that i could see anything mind you. In fact the crowd were torn in two, those wanting to get closer and those wanting to get away! With this in mind the enjoyment factor plummeted rapidly as small riots ensued and flailing arms met with chins while shoulders met with spines. Altogether an unpleasant experience (or I’m getting old)!

Death From Above 1979

It is no wonder then that I retreated to the relative safety of the first elevated tier to watch the rest of the set, yet I could still barely see them through the plumes of smoke. Somehow the monstrous bass and furious drumming was much louder in my expectations! They felt rather underpowered for a band who thrive on being louder than a jet engine at 20 paces. Certainly this was not the experience I had hoped for. Maybe it was wrong of me to heap so much promise on the show, what else would you expect if you hadn’t played for 5 years and only ever released one full LP clocking in at less than 40 minutes? They were most definitely road rusty.

Whether their decision to return was for artistic or personal or cough…cough…cash! It was clear that half the crowd loved every minute, while the others simply nodded along with a smug grim spelling out I.W.A.S.T.H.E.R.E.

Camden Crawl 2011: Day One

30th April 2011

A thankful DiR.net team headed out from HQ without the hassle of tube engineering works halting progress. Shortly after departing, we arrived, acquired our wristbands and were already enjoying our first band. Its great when things just work isn’t it!

The schedule was typically full of prime time clashes, but the addition of The Forum (hang on isn’t that Kentish Town), had added another headliner sized venue to the already bursting seams of the Camden Crawl + Kentish Town. We studied this at length in the blazing sunshine to the backdrop of Heights on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. These agro-metallers were adept in fashioning walls of chainsaw guitar buzz, which when cranked up made for some cool amped up soundscapes. The screamed vocals were below average however and failed to leave an impression.

Heights

Staying put we were ready for the dance-punk of Turbowolf! Thankfully their vocalist had improved since the last time we saw them (here), but it was still more deciphering rather than listening. His energy and enthusiasm cannot be faulted, his gypsy punk attire could. Backed with electro soaked guitar riffs with metally tendencies and spiky synths this band were on top form, kicking out huge melodies and thumping bass which had even the grandpa’s an head banging. An early contender for highlight of the Weekend for sure!

Turbowolf

Due to P Moneys no show we were ready for Pendul…sorry, The Qemists! After nestling in near the back of the crowd, I was astounded at just how loud their engineer was pushing the sound system. Even people south of the river were wondering “what’s that racket?”. As it transpired, their huge Drum n’ Bass madness was pushed a tad too much. A huge Crack” signaled a muted 15 minutes as they blew a fuse, much to my relief. They restarted somewhat quieter and were much better. Its amazingly hard to enjoy something blowing a hole in your ear drums! Entertaining? yes, original? not quite. The guitars were understated and the bass/bass/snare drum beats wore thin all too quickly.

The Qemists

After a short break we returned to find the punk pop delights of Attack! Attack! rounding out the day schedule on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage. This was by far the most accomplished set of the day. Polished pop songs with clouting guitars and plenty of vocal hooks were worthy of a much greater crowd. Still we really enjoyed this well crafted, catchy little set from these welsh boys!

Attack! Attack!

With a total of 16 venues hosting shows at 19:15, it’s beyond belief how we ended up watching such utter drivel next! The offenders were Glaswegian noise rockers Divorce. From their stage presence you felt like they were being forced to play against their will (I’ll excuse the drummer, he was quite likable, thus in the wrong band!). Their antagonistic apathy wreaked of attitude problems as they generated mere nonsensical noise from their guitars. Nothing of value came from the vocalists lips except silence! Here incessant thrashing and vocals which can only be described as squawks were utterly dreadful! They clearly thought that they were playing groundbreaking art rock….in reality, it was plain awful!

Divorce

What followed at the Barfly was much brighter, if a little more agro-centric. Turbogeist‘s speed punk was really quite good! Fast and furious riffs with poppy sprinkles gave it a really edge as you could both rock out and toe tap at the same time. In amongst their set were some belting tunes, such as Alien Girl, that sparked chaos in the mosh pit. I say mosh pit, this was all out macho man pinball! It even managed to fill 90% of the venue. The remaining 10% wincing at every clout while secretly hoping the next one to fly out, does so not near me! A frenzied set which was both dangerous and fun!

Turbogeist

Hawk Eyes (or the band formerly known as Chickenhawk), played an absolute blinder in the Underworld tonight. Aggressive alt metal was met with equally approving head banging as their hard hitting riffs and super technical fretwork took centre stage. This was not for the faint hearted as they blasted through most of their debut album including tunes such as NASA Vs ESA, Scorpieau and Son of Cern. We were even joined in the crowd by the lead singer who despite being the occasional scream merchant, has an impressive set of pipes! One to rock out to (without fear of flying bodies).

Hawk Eyes

Rounding off the night we ended up in the Jazz Cafe for the return of Dananananaykroyd. With a tiny stage for their bouncy frenetic live shows it didn’t take long for the singers to leap into the crowd, instantly sending camera bulbs flashing (guilty your honour) as their antics continued. Mr. Flowers even got a high five! Without their new album being out yet, much of the show was new to us, yet the songs on offer were as cheery as ever mixed with dazzling guitar work and their trademark dueling vocals. One new single i picked out Muscle Memory was an all out pop song with a catchy melody and bags off off-kilter kookiness which makes they so great to listen to.

Dananananaykroyd

More than any other band I’ve seen, Dananananaykroyd really look like they are having an absolute blast all the time, cracking jokes, bearing grins as wide as the Cheshire cat and bantering with anyone who dares. Their energy is totally infectious! Even when during one song both guitars and one mic malfunctioned. To their credit, they carried on regardless and had a little chuckle about it afterwards!

Free Hug, enroute to Hi-Five Mr Flowers!

So it was with some older tunes Black Wax and Pink Sabbath did Danananananaanana… bid us farewell this evening. They rounded off what was a great day one, for a festival whose crowning glory (of a shower and a cooked breakfast) was yet to come…oh and tomorrows lineup is pretty awesome too! Stay Tuned!

BBC In New Music We Trust Live… @ The Forum, Kentish Town

21st January 2011

After gaining tickets to this absurdly eclectic BBC staged new music event at The Forum ensured that we arrived down the the Forum, in plenty of time to catch all of tonight’s acts. Seeing as there were far too many bands to be healthy on a single nights line-up its somewhat of a surprise that we had support dj’s spinning the discs before proceedings kicked off. BBC Heavyweight new music champion Zane Lowe was the first of such mix masters who did a decent job of kicking up an early evening dance party.

Zane Lowe

All of tonight’s bands are being championed right now, with the first band Funeral Party having just released their debut album which has generated it’s fair share of buzz and pre-spectacle. Sadly as with most bands tagged Next Big Things… (there are over 50 more currently on a NME Gig series, btw) they fell somewhat short. From where I was standing, their guitar riff based dancy electro-punk with indie ambitions barely got started. Vocals were remarkably weak and with fewer hooks than I dare recall, this set really didn’t do justice to their quite impressive collection of studio singles. A few glimpses of brilliance were scattered here as there as their funky disco melodies had feet a tappin’ & grooves a bustin’, but they were over far too soon.

Funeral Party

During the stage roundabout, the DJ Double Act of Nero took to the balcony and pumped out some fast rhymes and hedonistic house tunes. Some more successful than others this was most definitely a great antidote to the mid-changeover bores.

Nero!!

The tempo slowed and an air of calm descended as Jamie Woon took centre stage. His soulful grooves were pleasant enough, but carried no real enigma or special ingredient which would propel him to stardom. Yes, he had a decent voice, Yes he was so laid back it was a wonder he could even stand up…but his lack of character and slow delivery left us all a bit laboured. Good job we were all stood up, else we wouldn’t have heard him for the snores. He would probably say tonight wasnt the right crowd, he’d be right. In a jazz club, this would have been …niiiicccceeee!

Jamie Woon

Our next guest DJ was BBC Radio One’s Nick Grimshaw. Now I have no idea how this man makes a living from being a DJ. Seriously anyone who thinks that a crowd waiting for new music would want to hear a pop mash-up with an Adele song thrown in to the mix is barking up the wrong tree. In fact Nick was in the wrong forest altogether! A glee club member dress sense, an ever greatening ego and a bravado laced persona did little to improve his status in out eyes either.

It was will great relieve then, that the tables stopped turning and the small family of Marshalls (2 Amps powering no less than 8 Cabinets!) who had assembled on stage were powered up by the electo-noise poppers Sleigh Bells. For a double act, they really are chalk and cheese these two. vocalist Alexis Krauss is a sweet sounding with an almost childlike twang to her voice bringing sugary melodies to the massive sound generated by guitarist Derek Miller. Miller has his guitar set to over-over-overdrive as he picks out some shrilling guitar licks which cut through the air with all the grace of a drunken elephant. It is this polar collaboration which is both the strength and the downfall of their live performance. Swinging from jovial poppy vocals to crashing waves of noise was alluring and impressive. But It was all to easy to drown out the vocals with the intense guitar racket, and leave the general onlooker wondering if Alexis had lost her voice, or was it we who had lost our hearing? Still this was a good performance, packed with innovative edgy pop music.

Sleigh Bells

It’s a long shot to call White Lies new music, but we were all glad they were here to soak us all in gloriously rousing gloom rock. This is a band of huge contradictions (happy sad music anyone?)which is why I enjoyed them more than I probably should. I’m not generally one for sad, doom impending depressing lyrics a la Joy Division, The Smiths et al… But tonight their electro fused soaring indie rock was by far the most accomplished set. All dressed in “we’ve just left a wake” suits they set about producing the most anthemic indie rock of the night. Throwing in some older gems helped proceedings, although newer material was too shabby either.

White Lies

This downbeat set closed out the night. One, which to our ears did not herald the start of a new music revolution, but gave a decent leg up the ladder to moderate success.

Foxy Shazam @ The Borderline

8th November 2010

As we approached our usual pub of choice near tottenham court road “The Royal George”, I can’t help but feel relieved. It is in fact extremely forturnate to even be still standing! With ther encroaching CrossRail development boring a huge hole in the earth, they spared this little gem of a pub. Although now it’s usual good music was replaced by the din of the huge electricity generators and digging equipment outside. Sad as it was, we had to leave!

What we found was a packed line-up at borderline headed up by electro-upstarts Angry Vs The Bear. 80’s synths, and electro-cool with a slight rocky feel to it was their staple diet and they stuck t the task well. Despite having the some awful haircuts (this was seemingly a pre-requisite to being onstage tonight) their catchy melodies were rather likable. A decent bill-footing act to get the crowd warmed up.

As soon as Neon Trees kicked off, by feelings of dislike began to sprout. A rag-tag bunch of crazy mop-tops fronted by an uber-camp, instantly disagreeable bloke with the worst haircut of the night (a flattened black Mohawk) and bags of in-your-face cockiness cast a sour first impression. This proved a hard tag to shake, which they went part way to managing thoughout their energetic electro-loaded set. Musically they were produced a spritely set of spiky indie guitars with synth heavy melodies not too dissimikar to a frantic “The Killers“. By the close of the set, a) I was happy never to set eyes on the lead singer again and b) suprised by the likability of their jaunty party electro-rock.

Foxy Shazam cast an althogether different picture. From the very instant that frontman Eric Sean Nally sprang on stage suddenly the venue exploded into a fun loving riot. The band of misfits who graced the stage were about as odd a collection I’ve seen. A huge bearded keyboardist, an 80’s throwback bassist, a ‘to the manor born’ trumpetter and on vocals, a tight leather clad “Count of Monte Cristo” with a moustache to rival the best of the Movember contenders

Eric Nally

Eric is one of those lovable frontmen who enjoys crowd interaction and being as chaotic as possible. Before even singing a note he told us of how he poked his eye out the other day, then immediately performed an inpromptu stage dive! The night continued in prety much as hectic as it began with the keyboardist mounting his instrument, many more stage dives, outlanding dacne moves, athleticism  and piggybacks. Eric did plenty more incredibly odd things here tonight including proclaiming his heterosexual outlook, donating a T-shirt to a girl in the crowd (at the wishes of a bemused looking heckler), showering  100 pound coins over the first few rows of the crowd, not forgetting his downright random between song banter. As far as his vocals go, you could say he’s slightly squeaky. But despite a talking voice of a 2 year old who has just swallowed a mouthful of helium, he belts out cracked vocals in a jubilant fashion putting his hinted falsetto octave range through a punishing schedule

Foxy Shazam

All this over exhuberance was just the kind of behaviour their music deservs. Their rich layered rock songs with incessant poppy melodies and uplifting chorus lines are just waiting to be screamed out at full volume. The highlights were their first ever UK single “Oh Lord” with its piano driven freakout, “The Rocketeer” with gang vocalled 5-4-3-2-1 countdown and USA Superbowl rousing anthem “Unstoppable”.

…hmm…god knows what was going on here…

However none of these can touch the outright fun and blistering indie rock of the incessantly paced “Killin It” with plenty of glammed up guitars and headbopping dance moves. As much as their music is pop, its how they put pride into their crazy performance and play with such a bright outlook that captivated me this evenig. Surely it’s not right to be having this much fun on a monday night. A simply brilliant show from a band which deserves more attention!

The Final Farewell

Fight Like Apes @ Camden Barfly

Fight Like Apes, Underground Railroad: 22nd September 2010

Tonight was the first time I;ve been to the Camden barfly for a gig, It seems to have been missed on our numerous outings thus far. Its a pretty standard small venue with decent enough sound, easily accessible bar and not too extortionate either. However it can tend to be very dark and dingy, but when the lights finally rose for our first band none of that seemed to matter much.

After hearing that Underground Railroad were the support for tonight I was hardly overcome with joy. After seeing them support for the Thermals a few years back, All i can recall of them is that they were diy punky frenchlings…playing English songs with not a great deal going for them. Since then they seemed to have switched sides and moved into noisy feedback loaded dreary indie land. Despite being supremely loud, I almost nodded off to sleep as they plodded their way though set which was best once it had finished. Although having a cello player to boost their musical interludes and soundscapes was a nice touch.

Underground Railroad

After keeping the crowd waiting, arriving 10 minutes late, Fight Like Apes soon made light work of dispelling any ill feelings towards them as they kicked off in spectacular style. Taking a huge step away from the seriousness of the support band, their lightheartedness and insane randomocity was exactly what was required. From the very off tonight, the crowd went bleeming bonkers. Very rarely have I seen a crowd this up for a crazed bounce-a-round! As soon as the first keyboard chime, snare drum snapped or bass line kicked of each song this was a call to arms that sparked moshing and pogoing on an epic scale. The only pause they managed was when the whole venue was summoned to kneel down (Which would have been easier if the moshers hadn’t spilt pint and pints of beer on the already treacherous floor) for the start of Battlestations..odd indeed!

Fight Like Apes

Lead singer MayKay is instantly likable with her cheeky Irish charm, quirky nature and ecstatic dance moves. She pours every ounce of energy she has into each and every syllable while manically flinging her body at all angles.Vocally she is so exuberant that you get entranced in her delivery and performance. Her voice is softly sweet one second, the next it’s out of control stopping at the edge of squawking.

MayKay

Her and the rest of the bands in-between song banter is cracking, pulling out insults and jokes while rally interacting with those who have payed to see them. After a spillage incident, a slightly odd older (& rounder) gentleman donated his pint to which the response was to drag him up onstage to sing. Needless to say, he was having a whale of a time!

With the release of their new LP The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner just around the corner, plenty of new tunes were given an airing tonight, most of which were fantastically received. The pick of their new tunes were Jenny Kelly and Come On, Let’s Talk About Our Feelings, both upbeat electro bombs of high intensity genius. Yet FLA still found time to cram in all of their hits from their debut with the pick of the bunch being I’m Beginning To Think You Prefer Beverly Hills 90210 To Me with its fast/slow loud/soft dynamics & crowd chant of “You’re So Fired“, Jake Summers with its crowd chant of “Jake Summers is the Man” and Something Global with its crowd chant of “Give Me My Hook” (see a pattern here?).

For an encore they added more randomness into their already unique blend of punk/electro/newwave/whateveryouwanttolabelit by playing one of the most genius covers, an amped up Salt N’ Peppa’s Push It! A simply great way to end the show which has seem more than its fair share of high octane disco vibes, raucous electro-popping and outlandish quirkiness. A show which took me totally by surprise, cementing its place as one of the highlights of the year!