Call me Russ L

Live Music Digest 16/8/6 – 24/8/6

Posted in Music by Russ L on 16 September, 2006

16/8/6 – The Medicine Bar @ The Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham – This benefit for Snowdonia Air Ambulance was a one-off re-union of Spine and (even better) Deadsunrising, so you know I was as enthusiastic as John Prescott on the day his wife let him have a mixed grill for breakfast. I was happy (very happy, considering The Kitchen was closed) to see that The Med Bar was selling the cheap bottles of Carlsberg again; I was less happy to see them run out halfway through the evening.

Nog opened the gig, but not in their usual instrumental way – this was the night of Nog’s Thrashaoke. Various members of local bands sang classic thrash metal songs to the backing of Nog, and you’ll rarely see anything quite so much fun. It’s been a while and I can’t remember precisely who did what, but I recall Alex Shid’s version of Sepultura’s ‘Arise’ (complete with dreadlock wig) being a highlight.

Deadsunrising were on next, and oh how I’d missed them. I’ve had the privelidge to see only a very few bands quite as manically fun as DSR were practically every time they played. I never found their music easy to describe the first time around and I it’s no better now – chaotic noisy guitary stuff, perfectly suited to the rampaging performance and the carnage they inspired in the crowd. A couple of people were nearly crippled by means of hillarious comical mosh-suplexes. Spectacular.

Spine finished the gig and suffered a little bit from that age-old local problem of ‘having to play after Deadsunrising’ (when the whole world just seems that bit more monochrome). They had a good stab at it, though. I only saw them twice the first time around (well, I have their split CD with Primate too) and so I’m not as familiar with them as perhaps I should be, but I always liked them and they didn’t disappoint. Metallic hardcore with hooks and a performance full of energy (or it would be if it wasn’t in a situation of direct comparison to DSR), but what was really nice was the way a lot of people’s faces lit up with happy memories.

18/8/6 – The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham – I wasn’t in the best of moods prior to this (Wise Maxim #1: Never get your hopes up about anything, it’s tactically a bad move. Wise Maxim #2: Other people – they’re just rubbish, ain’t they?), but the Hare & Hounds always cheers me up. Cans of Calsberg Export for a pound a throw. Everyone’s a winner.

Sunshine Republic were on first, playing one big droney type of thing (although thinking about what I’ve read around the internets I’m not sure if this is their normal style). This sort of thing is very popular of late and a lot of waffling nonsense is at large, but this set seemed to convey a feeling of intent and purpose – it seemed to actually go somewhere. Not particularly far, admittedly, but the building dynamics and crescendos of noise were somewhat pleasing.

Armed Response Unit were definitely the stylistic odd-band-out at this gig, playing thrashy punk ala Heresy/Ripchord etc. They kept it nicely varied by breaking it up with a few chunkier almost Black Flag-ish moments, though, and I enjoyed them even though I can’t think of a lot to say.

Palehorse have returned! Palehorse were always a fantastic band and I really cannot emphasise how wonderful it is to have them back. It was the sense of absurdity about them that always made them special, and it’s still there – they play some of the most pupil-expandingly crushing aggro-doom you could ever imagine, but always conveying the fact that they’re aware it’s all a bit… silly. Less po-facedness in metal will never be a bad thing. An amazing band, go and see them.

Red Stars Parade surprised me a little bit. I hadn’t heard them before, but all I’d read about them led me to think they were another one of your Cult Of NeurIsis bands. They are, loosely, but operate in a much more aggressive and more frequently uptempo sort of area. I liked as much of their set as I saw, but they were never going to top Palehorse and I was tired/smashed out of my face. I went home halfway through. I definitely will try to have a proper listen sometime soon, though.

22/8/6 – The Market Tavern, Digbeth, Birmingham – I was out and about with Maxine for this one. After some food (I’ll come back to that in a subsequent post) we waddled our full selves over to The Market Tavern. I’m happy to learn that some non-streetpunk gigs are actually getting a decent turn-out there of late.

Locals All I Need (it just makes you think of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, doesn’t it?) and South Wales boys Dispatch were the first two bands. I’m not up on the latest cool hardcore bands that you’re supposed to use for comparisons, so I’ll restrict myself to saying that AIN were at the punky end of it all, and Dispatch operated in more metallic fields. Both seemed to be typical examples of their type and I can’t pretend I’m likely to go out of my way to listen to either of them further, but they were both some level of fun to watch there and then.

Headliners The Black Veins‘ set would have been about half the length if they hadn’t had delays from technical difficulties in the middle, and it wasn’t very long even including them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though – since their music presented a series of short sharp shocks, why shouldn’t their set? ‘Not overstaying your welcome’ is something a lot of bands could learn from, in fact, but that’s a separate matter. The Black Veins were very Black Flag-y (perhaps loosely akin to earlier Misfits playing Black Flag), with lots of catchy chant-along bits but still ‘ard as nails. Good stuff, I’d like to see ‘em again.

23/8/6 – The Barfly, Digbeth, Birmingham – I missed the first band (some long mad name with the word ‘Cannonball’ in it, I forget precisely how it went), so Dexter and The Rubikons were the openers for me. As with the previous night’s gig, here we had two typical bands of their style (guitar-pop-rock type stuff, in this case) who I didn’t mind but wouldn’t go out of my way for. Dexter had some nice 60s-ish elements here and there, so they’d probably get the nod if I had to pick.

A quick salute here goes out to my old homegrill Matt, who introduced me to Youngblood Brass Band by lending me an album but wasn’t actually able to make it to this gig. Hur hur hur. How he missed out. YBB were breathtakingly good. Go to their site (or their MySpangle) and have a quick listen, then hear me when I say that live they were everything you wanted. I’m still impressed by the very concept of an urban brass band, never mind the fact that they’re so good. Huge (and I mean heee-uge) swells of hornsome sound roll forth with inventive and energetic percussion skittering above, combining to form some amazing songs. The best live set of August without a doubt.

Also, the Sousaphone is the greatest instrument in the history of music.

24/8/6 – The Barfly, Digbeth, Birmingham – My third gig in three nights, but I wasn’t doing too badly (a good portent, with GDFAF coming up). I missed all but the last little bit of openers Zox, who weren’t entirely what I expected. I saw about half of a power-pop type rocky song, then a final song consisting of a long (it really did go on a bit) distorted violin solo, a dubby bit, then more power-pop. Hearsay (albeit from someone who’s sayings I definitely consider worth hearing) tells me that a lot of bits in the songs they played earlier sounded suspiciously familiar to other well-known tunes. Dunno myself, though. I’m going to have to pass.

Locals Beat Union were on in the middle, playing (slightly) new-wave-ish pop punk with a healthy dollop of 80s good time rock ‘n’ roll mixed in. A confident and energetic performance helped to win a lot of people over, and I was left with a good impression if not entirely convinced – I’m not sure their songs were entirely there and got the feeling they could get a bit wearying. We’ll see, though. Hurrah for the time being.

Bedouin Soundclash are now properly famous, having had their music used on adverts and allsorts. Fame nearly always changes people, and in this case it has led to them seeing the need to make extensive on-stage rants about how, actually, they haven’t sold out, ta very much. This got boring fast, as well you can imagine.

The music, of course, was ace. Having been touring their first album for quite some time now (I’ve only seen ‘em once before but they’ve been at it for ages), they had the good sense to not simply do straight note-for-note versions of everything from the records, adding a much dubbier feel to most of the songs. This took them away from the Police-ish sound I’d loved them for, but still worked well. A few new songs sounded good, one sounded not so good (our abovementioned correspondent spoke of it making his “ears feel like they’d just got Fox teen drama implants” and again I curse my own inability to come up with turns of phrase even half as good as that), but on the whole a great set.

I think that’ll just about do, for now.

~ Russ L, getting closer to gigs he can actually remember.


One Response

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  1. Russ L said, on 20 September, 2006 at 6:42 am

    There’s another account of the Bedouin Soundclash gig here. It’s interesting to note how that author saw quite a lot of things in more or less a completely opposite way to me.


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