Call me Russ L

GDFAF #9: Shady Bard / The Will To Rally / The Francos (4/11/6)

Posted in Going Deaf For A Fortnight 2006, Music by Russ L on 5 November, 2006

Ah, you know how it is. You’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, you’ve just watched X-Factor, it’s nice and warm in the house but freezing cold outside, and having been to what feels like a thousand consecutive gigs and with what feels like another 381 yet to go… you’re reluctant, but the Goodfaff must go on. You resolve to go out, but get revenge against the world in general by spending the first paragraph of the next day’s blog entry doing nothing but moaning.

No solid plan had been worked out in advance for this chilly Saturday evening. I was tempted by the Reanimator death metal night at Chapter Eleven, but decided that this fortnight was a bit metal-heavy (hahahadidjaseewhatIdidthere?) already. You just wait for the next couple of gigs. There’s some proper denim-jacket-with-the-arms-ripped-off stuff upcoming.

I instead used the night as my chance to do something I vaguely intended to do a couple of times in the fortnight – turn up at one of the ‘regular night’ Birmingham promoter’s gigs and just watch whoever happened to be on. Having already done that with The Catapult Club at The Jug Of Ale, this time it was the turn of Zoot at The Flapper And Firkin. I like The Flapper – it’s a normal, vaguely alternative-oriented pub upstairs, with an absolute dump of a gig room downstairs that nonetheless rises above squalor by means of having a fair bit of hard-to-define charm about it. Most of the atmosphere at any gig, obviously, comes from the bands and the clientele, but some venues just have an intangible something over and above all that. The Foundry had loads of it; many around here thought The Royal George did too, although I always felt the opposite myself. The Flapper (and also The Hare And Hounds, where I was the previous night) isn’t on that sort of level, but it certainly has a share.

On the other hand, of course, the toilets are disgusting and the beer on tap is absolutely terrible. One day there’ll be a place that puts it all together, I’m sure.

Zoot Promotions, meanwhile, are an outfit who divide opinion like no other. Many (promoters and punters alike) decry the fact that they have Thursday/Friday/Saturday block-booked at The Flapper from now until forever, preventing anyone else getting a look in. I don’t mind that as much (it ensures that lots of bands are definitely getting gigs, if you see what I mean), but when I hear tales about them not paying touring bands over from Canada despite a packed room I start to get a more negative impression. Their soirees tend to feature three bands falling somewhere under the massive umbrella of ‘indie music,’ meaning they could be more or less anything – glancing down their upcoming gigs list reveals that they have such wonders as Grandscope, Einstellung and The Courtesy Group booked for the next couple of months, but you’re just as likely to encounter a fifty-seventh rate Oasis rip-off at any given gig. You pays your money, you takes your chance.

Unfortunately, and as you may have guessed from the lengthy no-talk-about-the-bands-yet preamble, this particular gig was firmly in ‘tedious crapola’ territory. Ah well.

The Francos opened, scouse indie-pop (apparently only the singer is actually from Liverpool, but they definitely had that Merseyjangle feel) and entirely unimaginative. As rude as it may seem, the only reasonable response was to yawn.

The Will To Rally had a bit more about them, even if they weren’t a fat lot more likeable. Post-punk type wirey guitars thing, oh so popular of late, with songs that might have been alright. We won’t go mad, but they really might have been ‘alright’. They weren’t given a chance, though, by dint of the absolutely sodding ridiculous vocals from the main singer – two of them sang, but the one who took more frequent lead duties had a sort of low yelp akin to Kermit The Frog burping after too much fizzy pop. Frustrating.

So, one act remained to save the night and it didn’t initially look promising – they were called Shady Bard. While this does bring to mind the amusing image of a wandering minstrel laying down his lute on the pavement so he can make use of both hands in trying to get your hubcaps off, I wouldn’t trust any individual who thought it was a good name for their band.

Hope picked up when I saw the varied instrumentation (French horn and cello, amongst the usual drums, guitars and keyboards) they deployed, but soon dropped again when they started playing. Folksy indie, with the aforementioned pleasing difference in what they were using being thoroughly outflanked by a bunch of wet and dreary songs. Ah well. Back to the drawing board.

I suspect this may be the post with which band-fan flak machines finally have a pop at me. It had to happen at some point in the fortnight. On the other hand, I know there are some of you reading this that have only been doing so in the hope that I’ll get around to doing a hatchet job. Maybe this will sate your bloodlust.

~ Russ L, thinking that he was quite restrained here, all things considered.

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2 Responses

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  1. Pete Ashton said, on 5 November, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Aw, that was very light. You could have been much harsher. If any of the bands conduct a hate campaign against you for that review I’ll be surprised.

    Funny, my “unsigned bands night” on the Saturday was crap too but the Thursday ones were pretty good. Maybe the promoters don’t bother with Saturdays so much since there’s more competition.

  2. Russ L said, on 5 November, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    Aw, that was very light. You could have been much harsher. If any of the bands conduct a hate campaign against you for that review I’ll be surprised.

    I was very restrained, but I’ve had (a small degree of non-sustained) flak when I’ve actually liked a band before now, so god knows what goes on in the minds of some. I just have a feeling. If it does turn out to be true then I’ll probably end up wishing that I had actually got the knives out.

    Funny, my “unsigned bands night” on the Saturday was crap too but the Thursday ones were pretty good. Maybe the promoters don’t bother with Saturdays so much since there’s more competition.

    Could well be, although I think the openers and headliners here were both on tour (not together) and so when they played would thus have been determined by when was available on their schedule.

    I remember – way back in the day – Zoot used to designate their Thursday nights (or at least some of them) ‘New Bands Night’. I don’t know if that is relavent or not.


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