Call me Russ L

Russell’s Big Bumper Book Of Bands He Saw This Weekend

Posted in Music by Russ L on 7 January, 2006

Originally posted on 1/2/5.

Three gigs on three consecutive nights. I’m getting too old for this isht.

Friday and Saturday nights were Zoot promotions gigs, at The Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham. Zoot promotions are an indie (for the most part) outfit who have every Thursday, Friday and Saturday (and some Wednesdays) at the Flapper block-booked from now till forever. There are obvious reasons not to be keen on that (i.e. no-one else can get a look-in), and at their gigs they do this irritating thing where (as you arrive and pay your entrance fee) they ask you which band you came to see and keep tally marks of how many people pick whom (I’m told that they split the money they pay to the bands proportionally to the number of people that pick each, in accordance with the little-known fact that petrol is cheaper if you’re less popular. I’ve taken to glancing at the sheet to see who has the least votes and just picking that band). On the other hand, though… Zoot gigs are always well attended. There seem to be a lot of people who just go to their nights regardless of who is playing, and that’s clearly a good thing for the actual bands around here – actual crowds to play in front of for a change.

Friday night was Editors, with… erm… names advertised at various points included The Boxer Rebellion, Murdoch, Chester Road and the ever prolific ‘Special Guests.’ On the night, I think Chester Road opened, but I missed them and so for me they just remain one of those names you see around in gig guides ‘n’ such. I caught the main support band, who (again) I think were Needless Alley.

The place was rammed. Densely, fire-hazard-ly packed out. It was free (which I didn’t know until I got there), Editors are starting to get some press and radio play (more on which later), it was a Friday night, and (as I’ve said) it was a Zoot gig, and hence the room was somewhat on the busy side. I’ve only ever seen the place that packed for Carina Round gigs, previously. Unable to penetrate the density of the throng (and somewhat unwilling to have to brush up against too many sweaty people), I was trapped at the back with all the irritating arseholes who go to gigs only to pay no attention whatsoever to the bands and loudly talk all the way through. You can’t win, really.

Needless Alley, anyway. They played epic, building indie-rock, for the most part sounding like your everyday guitar band although one song did make me think of Tindersticks. Some of the songs sounded quite likeable, but at times the singer’s vocals were a bit overdone – she seemed to have the urge to go a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ at times when the music might have wanted a bit more subtlety from her. I can’t say a single thing about what they were like on stage as the dense crowd meant all I actually saw of them was the odd glimpse of a centre parting, but I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to seeing them again (hopefully in better circumstances).

Editors are a band for which I’ve acted as my own little hype machine. I caught the last song of one of their sets a long, long time ago (October ’03), when they were still called Snowfield (a much better name, in my opinion) and I was amazed by it. Since then I’ve heard the few snippets of songs they have on their website, and that’s it. On the basis of these meagre experiences I’d sort of convinced myself I loved them, which isn’t really very sensible, is it? Please note this was far, far before the press furore that apparently currently surrounds them (I honestly wouldn’t know – I haven’t looked at any of the music press for ages). The site that I write for (www.TheCommunion.co.uk – what do you mean you’re sick of hearing it?) has been pimping this band for a while now, pre-bandwagon stylee, and – with all appropriate humility – I was the first from there to discover them. Talent-scout extraordinaire, that’s me. Just make sure you’re ahead of the game. And other such nonsense.

Chest-puffing aside, this gig was therefore my first real chance to check out the band I’d more or less conned myself into liking. Were they good? Yeah. They bloody were. Once more I couldn’t see a thing other than the odd flash of a raised guitar tuning head, and once more lots of people around me were doing their best to drown out the sound of the band with their own conversations, but Editors were bloody great. They’re Echo & The Bunnymen meeting Joy Division, and (if this can possibly make sense) they seem quite inventive without actually being original – interesting music in a context you’re comfortable with. Most importantly – bloody bloody great great songs.

They seem to be on the verge of a crack at the big time, and they are a good band so it’ll be a shame if they’re just one of the many who get five minutes in the magazines before being forgotten about. Only time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime I really must get myself a copy of their single that came out last week.

Saturday night I again made my way to the Flapper for some Rock ‘N’ Motherfurtling Roll that was every bit as 80s-themed as Editors, but couldn’t sound any more different. Rattlesnake Remedy, The Wild Roses and Fiori play music that harks back to a time when men were real men but dressed like women, and women were real women but hardly dressed at all. We’re talking Guns ‘n’ Roses, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, balls to the wall tight trousered big haired partying, baby.

Fiori were the most ‘different’ of the three, with an image that suggest goths who have discovered a few more colours and a musical style that takes the above Rock And/Or Roll but with a few elements of grunge and more traditional stompy glam rock. That possibly makes them seem a little more original/unique than they actually were, but they had a few decent songs and while they didn’t absolutely blow my mind I’d quite like to see them again.

When I hear The Wild Roses’ name I really cannot help but think of The Wylde Stallyns from the Bill & Ted films. There’s a trend in wrestling writing on the internet to use a tilde followed by an exclamation mark (~!) to denote extra emphasis. I don’t know where I got the idea from, but I originally thought that little punctuatory combo was supposed to denote the little disembodied lead guitar squeal that sounded whenever Bill or Ted said “WYLDE STALLYNS~!”

All this is, of course, the long way round of saying I’m having a really hard time resisting the urge to refer to The Wild Roses as “THE WILD ROSES~!”

I may eventually cease this resistance.

They were the band of the night, anyway. They reeeeally look the part, both in terms of what they’re wearing and the poses onstage, and… well, they rocked, it’s as simple as that. Very Backyard Babies (I gather very Motley Crue, too, but I don’t really know the Crue’s canon that well. Yeah, bite me), with songs that leave you with a feeling similar to what I imagine mainlining a mixture of Jack Daniels and pure adrenaline would be like. They have a track called “Come In Her Face,” too, which is either the best or worst thing ever. I can’t make my mind up. Go and see THE WILD ROSES~!, they’re worth your time.

Rattlesnake Remedy are going to suffer in my description from me saying they weren’t quite as good as THE WILD (OK, I’ll calm down) Roses, but they didn’t in real life – they were only just about not quite as good. Their style is pure G ‘n’ R homage (even down to the helium-croak vocals), and they really got to feed off an enthusiastic crowd – The Wild Roses seemed just as popular, but by the time Rattlesnake Remedy were on I think more people were drunk enough to come to the front and shake heads/asses/various anatomy. The solo-between-songs was a bit of a momentum-killer (I’m not one of these “Durrr George, solos are bad” types, but when it’s not even part of a song…), but for the most part they were great fun.

Sunday I went to Edwards No. 8 (‘Eddies’). This, for those who don’t know, is a very tacky rock disco, with murals of Rob Zombie, Maz Manson and various horror film characters painted on he walls, and these weird quasi-fluorescent lights that somehow highlight the fibres in anything made out of darkly coloured wool (in this case my overcoat) and make you look as though you’re covered in little white bits. Bizarre.

This gig was the first in what I gather is to be monthly series of nights sponsored by Terrorizer magazine. Presumably this means the gig was advertised in said organ (I haven’t looked at any music mags for ages, as I said above, so I can’t be sure), but that didn’t seem to have much effect as the turnout was on the sparse side. It was nice to have a bit of breathing space after the busy night before and the inhumanly crowded night before that, but this would probably have been better in a smaller venue.

I missed openers Life Denied, although I’m told they were a death metal/grindcore kind of affair. The middle band on were Decimate, who despite being my second most-seen band (this was the thirteenth time, which probably makes me a bit of a gig-going wimp) I haven’t seen since last March.

They absolutely destroyed. I honestly think they are one of the best metalcore bands in the world; it could just be familiarity with them, but I’m very reluctant to admit that. They have really good songs where a lot of bands seem to be happy just to have the right sound. Anyway, with the help of a really good mix they tore the room apart, and I’ve decided that the swirly ascending riff (there’s probably a technical guitar-playing name for it, but I don’t know) in ‘Six Months For A Life’ is my new favourite thing ever (until the next one). They never seem to play ‘Regret’ anymore, but I suppose if we had everything we wanted we’d be spoiled.

Benediction were headlining, and I’d never see or heard them beforehand. Yes, I know, I’m a mere acolyte/novice/useless git/etc. Death metal, obviously, and I enjoyed them. They had enough rock ‘n’ roll about their music to keep my interest; while I’m not sure I’d spend a great deal of time listening to any of their albums if I got hold of one, I definitely wouldn’t be averse to seeing them again.

So… to put the weekend’s bands in order of most enjoyed to most OK (‘cos I didn’t dislike any at all, which is always a good ratio) I’d say Editors first, then Decimate and THE WILD ROSES~! very close behind and in joint second place, then Rattlesnake remedy behind them, then Benediction, then Fiori, then lastly (someone had to be) Needless Alley.

I can be almost certain that no-one will read this in its entirety.

– Russ L

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