Call me Russ L

Bah – Academy (geddit?)

Posted in Music by Russ L on 14 February, 2007

Now I know I’m not exactly on record as being a fan of the Carling Academy venues in Birmingham, but one of the bigger problems with them (as someone else once astutely noted, although sadly I forget precisely whom) is that they manage to simultaneously feel like clinical, souless wipe-clean entities and unsanitary crapholes – the worst of both worlds. The Bar Academy amplifies this sad state of affairs by being an establishment that (if you squint and think laterally) bares a faint, vague relation to an actual pub. It’s nothing like one, of course, but there’s just enough of a hint of the real world in there to remind you of it and make you sad that you’re in this revolting place instead.

It stands to reason, then, that if you go to a gig there on a night when you’re already feeling very tired and even more irritable (such as the 11th of Feb 2007, to pick a random example) you won’t be onto a winning formula. There were a couple of very interesting bands that I wanted to see, of course, but I suppose it was obvious from the very beginning that in my mind they’d be struggling against all the other mitigating circumstances.


I fell for the old “everything will be starting early” line, too. Cretinous of me, of course, but I got there bright and early to find the upstairs gig room wasn’t open yet. Normally I know better than this, but there you go. We’re all the sucker sometimes. I went down the road a bit to Scruffy Murphy’s for a drink, since I don’t buy them in Academy venues (as regular readers of this thing will be sick of hearing).

Two bands, anyway, both of which I enjoyed but didn’t particularly make me into a happy bunny. First on were Mothertrucker, they of the instrumental metal and of the drummer who is too good at chess and Scrabble for my liking. This short-ish set was the first time I’ve seen them in nearly five months (very unusual by my standards of the last couple of years), and it was lovely to have them back in my life. I fear I may come close to damning them with faint praise if I say it wasn’t what I’d call one of their absolute best sets, but any time you see them their instrumental rock has the ability to shift oh-so-effectively between ‘atmospheric and tense’ and ‘total coruscating storm of guitar.’ New song ‘Festival Strength’ might take me a few listens, perhaps.

Aereogramme, as I’ve said hereabouts before, are a band I saw a good while back and decided to definitely check out further. And didn’t. They’re pretty different between then and now, though – much, much less noisy and angry, and more about well-crafted melodic (though unconventional) songs. Again, the ‘damning with faint praise’ spectre rears its evil head, but trust me when I say that this change in sound is not a bad one – the songs really are excellent, epic and cinematic (never sure if I like that as an adjective for music or not) while being passionately delivered to boot. Direct reference points for their new sound do not spring immediately to mind, which is a good sign.

They’re not a subtle band in any aspect of anything they do, of course, but nonetheless the heartfelt sense of it all still shines through. Also, some of their songs reminded me of Christmas. I really do not know why.

I left before they finished nonetheless. A tired misanthrope can only stand so much enjoyment.

~ Russ L, not a misanthrope really. He’s got nothin’ but love for everyone, and doesn’t really mean it when he acts to the contrary.

(EDIT: Comments have been closed on this post because it seems to be one that attracts a disproportionate amount of spam that gets through the filter. I don’t know why that may be, but it it’s true).


2 Responses

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  1. Chris C said, on 16 February, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    you get some amazing show line ups down there in Birmingham, Russ you old curmudgeon you.

  2. Russ L said, on 16 February, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Curmudgeon? I haven’t even scratched the surface, I could moan much further. Not just about The Bar Academy, either – I glossed over the fact that proved I’m really becoming a miserable old git. When I went into Scruffy’s before the gig, my main thought was “Why do they need to have the music so loud?”

    Maybe it’s just the inevitable consequence of working with pensioners. I don’t know.

    It was a solid bill as far as two-band-bills go, though. The same gig happening again in a different venue and at a time when I haven’t Got One On Me (so to speak) would definitely be appreciated by your correspondant.

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