Call me Russ L

Blak St. Tomassi/Inertia Truckeone

Posted in Music by Russ L on 29 July, 2007

The astute observer will note that my gig-going is nowhere near as prolific of late as it has been in the past. I think my antipathy towards the majority of people who are in-depth music fans is finally producing practical results. I have attended a couple since Supersonic, though.

I went to The Barfly on the 18th of July. While I’ve never gone as far as liking the place, I always used to think that it was about as good as big chain venues tend to get. Maybe it still is (that statement doesn’t exactly boast of excellence), but the place definitely seems to be going downhill. The lager, in particular, didn’t seem tooooo bad when I was first going there but certainly has seemed worse the last couple of times I’ve been. Much like Gloucestershire, water levels in The Barfly appear to be increasing these days.

I missed the first band on but arrived in time for Blakfish, a local band who I hadn’t seen before despite the fact that they play loads of gigs and seem to have become quite popular. I had a feeling I wouldn’t like them, and I can’t really put my finger on where that came from. Happily, this feeling turned out to be entirely wrong. The obvious writ-oh-so-large reference point would be At The Drive In, but they had interesting presto-chango songs, gave it some welly in terms of performance, and made me chuckle with their banter. I’ll definitely see them again.

The bill was topped by two bands on tour together. Meet Me In St Louis weren’t actually American, as I had assumed from the name. Silly ol’ me. Post hardcore-come-emo type of thing, anyway, which didn’t amaze. The songs weren’t especially memorable (jumping from one idea to the next for no clear reason or with no noticeable effect) and the atonal vocals really got on my tits.

Rolo Tomassi are a band I like a hell of a lot and have spoken favourably of many times before. On this occasion they seemed a lot more nervous on stage than they did on either of the two prior occasions I saw them (they did mention that this was the biggest venue they’d ever headlined. Maybe that was why). This may or may not explain why their controlled-chaos cut-up synth-grind-noise-hyphen-hyphen didn’t seem quite as frenetically explosive as usual. Bad sound also rendered the keyboards completely inaudible whenever played at the same time as the guitar or the bass, but they were still fun. The bits where the various strands all come together and start making sense will always put smiles on faces.

On the 27th I went to The Basement (formerly Cocoon and, apparently, The Jester) in Birmingham. The gig at hand was meant to happen at Epic Skate Park in Moseley, prior to its license being taken away. Those Robot Professor folks played a blinder in not only finding a replacement venue, but also a venue that doesn’t normally host live music (as far as I’m aware, anyway). If this has opened up the place for future gigs then they’ve done everyone a favour. Lord knows we need more venues at the moment.

I didn’t actually like the place, though, which was a shame. Someone said to me that it reminded me of a VIP lounge under a club in a film, which I can sort of see, but it’d have to be a VIP lounge that had been left uncleaned and unloved for thirty years (general tatty air, chewing gum encrusted carpet peeling up off the floor etc). Despite being quite a big room there seemed to be an oppressive feel about it, too, although that was probably just me. The ‘cheap drinks’ promised in the advertising failed to materialise at first – when I arrived I was told that all bottles (no taps) were £3, and I nearly fainted. After a bit of negotiation from the promoter, bottles of Carling were reduced to £1.50. That’s closer to reasonable. I suppose.

Inertia Blooms opened, and I wasn’t feeling ‘em. Bog standard Mogwai/Slint style post-rocker-y, with some pretend yankee-doodle-dandy nasal vocals over the top at times. In their second song they did the Neurosis/UpCDownC percussion jam bit. Meh.

Mothertrucker haven’t been practising much later, as they’ll happily tell anyone who’ll listen. This (blessedly) didn’t show toooo badly – the odd slightly messy moment here and there, but nothing major. The crowd were comically enthusiastic (genuine German-style fistbanging took place), the Mike Goldberg commentary excerpt at the start of (what has become) “Liddell/Couture III” made me smile, the extra jingly guitar bit at the end of “Dark Destroyer” was quite nice, and they generally did everything all of the things that I always praise ‘em for and am fed up of writing over and over again. The dry ice was possibly a mistake.

I was actually going to leave at this point – even though I knew nothing of the next band and like headliners The Arm a lot, I was tired and bits of my anatomy (don’t be disgusting) were hurting. The negative vibez of the room weren’t helpful, either. As it happened, though, lots of people seemed to leave at this point, and thus I felt a bit guilty and ended up stopping for half of Corleone’s set. I really need to stop thinking like that.

Corleone didn’t amuse me too much, in the end. They mixed a(nother) basic standard post-rock sort of thing with something akin to the jangle of Polaris, but didn’t seem to have much in the way of the dynamic range that might have given it a bit more impact.

So I left.



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