Call me Russ L


Posted in Music by Russ L on 16 April, 2006

There was a certain degree of uncertainty regarding Thursday the thirteenth of April. Originally I heard about a gig involving Grandscope and Naomi (more about both of whom later), but subsequently learned that my old mucker Big Sean was putting on Assert that same night. Given the paucity of audience present last time Assert played around here, I couldn’t in good conscience miss this one. Plus Assert are wicked ‘n’ that. The gig was supposed to be at The Bear Tavern, but since The Market Tavern had been mentioned earlier on I thought it prudent to check Assert’s website on the day. It’s a good job I did – it had them down for playing The Market Tavern… on the seventeenth. I managed to get confirmation of this in the early afternoon, and so after work it was off to The Barfly instead for the gig I’d originally planned to go to. The only pain in the arse now is that this means I’m going to have to miss Decimate’s gig at The Flapper on Monday. You can’t win, can you?

I arrived at The Barfly in time to find not-very-many-people-at-all in the audience, and a band whose identity I have no idea about already on stage. They played your typical jangly indie (the Byrds-without-the-songs thing gracing opening slots nationwide every night), apart from one tune in which they added a bit of dirty, juddering funk to the mix. I quite liked that one. Otherwise it’s a ‘meh’ from me.

Naomi was on second. She’d really intrigued me in advance – the dearth of information on her website could easily have been annoying but successfully came across as likeably enigmatic (I’ve since found her Myspace page, which is probably a better one to go to if you want info) and I really liked the tunes. The Barfly website let slip that she was from San Diego, but other than that I knew little. And yeah, she’s hot. We’ll get that out of the way to begin with.

She set up, just her and her laptop. I really don’t know why, but her being on her own up there onstage meant the fact that the cavernous Barfly was empty (there were probably about twenty folks in the audience. It’s a 500-ish capacity venue) seemed even more surreal. Her set was absolutely fantastic nonetheless. Forceful, clattering electro beats boomed forth while Naomi’s beguiling, hypnotic vocals snaked back and forth around them. She danced, too. More artists should dance on stage. I approached her to buy her CDs afterwards and asked if all of the gigs on the tour had been as bad as this. “Worse” she quipped. Oh well. Hopefully this won’t put her off coming back over here again, although I wouldn’t blame her if it did.

Grandscope headlined. When I first saw them (here’s some blah about it, amongst some blah about other gigs) they absolutely amazed me. The second time I saw them, a week-and-a-half ago (blah) I thought they were only in the ‘reasonably good’ range. I doubt I actually will end up enjoying them as much as I did the first time again, since they really have changed their approach, but this time they were once more pretty darn likeable. The bassplayer’s vocals were one of the sticking points for me at The Flapper gig, and blessedly they seemed a lot less ‘off’ this time. Must’ve just been a bad night for him. What we have (nowadays), anyway, is a proggy indie sort of lark, with lots of electro inflections – imagine, perhaps, a more traditional-song-styled version of ‘Kid A’ era Radiohead, I suppose, with some splashes of Depeche Mode here and there and maybe even the tiniest hint of some Boards Of Canada-ish moments. This is not to suggest even for a moment that they’re indebted to those bands, as this is a sound genuinely their own.

It’s not the sound I originally fell in love with, but I can feel myself falling for them again.

~ Russ L



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