Call me Russ L

… And on… and on…

Posted in Music by Russ L on 8 January, 2006

Originally posted on 19/11/5.

Originally the plan was to attend gigs on tuesday/wednesday/thursday. You can keep your going out on Friday and Saturday night – feeling crap at work the next day is the life for me. The last-minute decision was made to add one on Sunday night, giving us the same pattern as last week – gigs on Sunday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. Come Thursday, though, I was far too shattered (that’s a funny way of saying that you’re tired, now that I come to think of it. Does anyone know its origin?) to go out after work, and so the last one (Lady Sovereign at The Barfly) was abandoned and struck from the records. None of this may seem especially important but there’s a chance it might come up in the test.

So, although I wasn’t originally going to go to the Sunday night one it was a good job I relented, given the paucity of audience there. Birmingham Turnout strikes again. With two touring foreign bands on the bill it’s a bit of a shame, really. My four quid entrance money will be vital in getting them another several miles down the motorway (or however far four quid worth of petrol will get you. I know it’s not far these days ‘cos motorists are always complaining, but I don’t have too much of an idea how far because I don’t listen to them. They’re boring) towards a gig where there might actually be some people.

Opening, anyway, were Chinook & The Charged Particles (Ed erstwhile of Og’s Bunkadoo Band, and his accompanying troupe including no less than D. Louis Baker). There’s been a lot of fuss and excitement over this lot locally, so I was intrigued to see them. It was all (I’m pleased to note) fully deserved. Folksy business with really excellent songs, and I can’t emphasise that enough (I’m humming “Birmingham New Street” as I type). Imagine the folky storytelling style of someone like a Nick Drake, but leaning towards the more modern approach of someone like a Seth Lakeman. I loved the little local references in the lyrics, too. Definitely a name to remember.

Dwayne Sodahberk from Sweden was on next. Beforehand I hadn’t heard any of his music but I’d read somewhere that he was an ambient artist. His set was a game of two halves, musically – the first half was indeed ambient-ish stuff, occasionally noisying up a touch to something more like glitch techno, but the latter half mixed in mournful singer-songwriter type stuff and sounded akin to Ben Christophers (although with the electronics more to the fore). I liked the music he was making a lot, but bloody hell was he un-charismatic. One bloke hunched behind a keyboard and retreating into his collar in his eagerness to not acknowledge the audience did not make for massive excitement. I wouldn’t mind checking him out on record, though – one song with a beat fashioned from bursts of static and a haunting vocal refrain especially impressed me.

I’d hears a few bits and bobs by Canadian headliners Picastro, all of which seemed considerably more lighthearted than they were live. Theirs is dark, dark folk, paranoid and introspective. The enormous expanses of nothingness in Canada are revealed in the expansiveness of their sound and the crushing feeling of insignificance that this engenders is conveyed in the bleakness of the their tone. I liked them.

On Tuesday night I was accompanied by none other than my old homebeaker Pratt to go and see Elbow at The Academy. Miscommunication and/or staying in The Briar Rose for too long led to us missing all but about the last song and a half from supporting band Mew. The little bit I did see, I liked – sort of Mercury Rev-ish, with big escalating finishes.

Elbow themselves were wonderful, conjuring up a beauty that belied the ugly Academy surroundings. They have that Northern bittersweet thing agwaan, mixing tenderness and grit into their proggy indie. Guy has an absolutely angelic voice when he wants to have, and the band can back it up with heartbreaking melody and a lot more groove than I was expecting. “Newborn” was the highlight of the night, with a big and almost psychedelic ending added to it.

Wednesday night saw a trip to The Flapper. I was running late but so was everyone there, so I didn’t miss anyone. Mother Trucker opened and were their usual ‘really good’ despite being assailed (variously) by illness and collapsing drums. Maybe the time changes sounded a touch less smooth than usual but maybe I’m just imagining that (I certainly wouldn’t take my own word for it). Their set mostly consisting of new stuff (including the splendid ‘Dark Destroyer,’ the opening of which juxtaposes an enormous riff with the nimble little guitar melody underneath it. The preceding sentence was an in-joke, thank you for reading) left me very much looking forward to the upcoming CD.

Team from Leicester were supposed to be on next, but I found out (only a few minutes before what would have been their set) that they’d had to pull out, and were replaced by Tired Irene. With a name like that (it’s nearly but not quite as bad as Mother Trucker) and the stigma of ‘last minute replacement’ hanging over them, I didn’t expect them to be anything too special. As usual, I’m a moron who deserves to have his brain dashed against something sharp for its crimes against being right. They were great – spiky indie-rock, at times a bit new-wave-ish and at times gearing up to a noisier Blood Brothers-ish thing. What really stood out about them was the interesting way in which they used having two singers – lots of intriguing layering and harmonies, giving their sounds as a whole a lot more texture. They made a nice touch out of that ‘back away from the mic and keep singing thing’ that the adjective/spazzcore bands seem to feel obliged to use, actually doing something with it by making interesting combinations of one guy near his mic and one away from it (and so on). The songs sounded good, too, especially the one with that said something about ‘The Good Guys’ in the chorus (it may or may not have been the one that they said was on their 7″, I forget). I’m still keen to hear Team, but Tired Irene were fantastic and a band I definitely want to see again and hear more of.

(Edit added 13/2/6 – their name is actually ‘Tired Irie.’ Oops…)

Project 7 were our headliners for the evening. The thing you instantly notice is the vocalist/guitarist’s tendency to wink as he sings. It’s probably involuntary, but it sure is fun to watch. They play a very varied indie-rock sound, with each song made up of all sorts of different parts. It didn’t always hang together effectively, but there were allsorts of likeable moments. The guy creating the most interest is Dan the bassplayer, bringing both groove-filled and intricate basslines throughout (he actually works with a mate of mine so it may seem that I’m only saying this to be nice, but it’s true. I promise). Halfway through the set I came up with the theory that they were much better when they were a-grooving than when they were a-rocking, and that seemed true up until the last two songs. These then provided a big stoner-y post-rock wallop and made me eat my words. Overall I’d say Project 7 were the least of the three bands of the night, but still not bad at all.

After this I was knackered. Absolutely kiln-fired. When I thought about it, I realised I’d been to eleven gigs in the past three weeks, which averages out at more than one every two days. Add this to the fact that I’m a wimp and you won’t be surprised.

~ Russ L

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