Two gigs from a short while back
(Oh mercy. Out of date and out of sequence. Oh well).
As will be apparent to the more avid Russellspotters of this parish, I haven’t exactly been going to a huge number of gigs of late. April looked like a month to rectify this, right up until I started being beset by Epic Fails1.
Terrorvision at The Wulfrun and Basement Jaxx at The Academy: sold out before I got tickets. Prodigy/Dizzee Rascal at the NIA: the only tickets remaining were seated right at the back, 42.6 miles away from the stage (but no cheaper for it). An important lesson can be learned here, and this is not to arse about when it comes to ticket obtainance2.
Never mind all this enormodome NoBiznizzLikeShowbiznizz big-gig stuff, though3: there were some proper ones on the horizon too. Capsule had a function booked on Friday the 10th at The Hare And Hounds in Kings Heath, featuring Baroness (the first time I saw them was beyond amazing, the second time was quite good, and the album I bought is alright. How would they be this time?) and Mothertrucker (my second-most seen band ever, but I hadn’t actually witnessed them since December ’07).
Now then. Normally, if I was going to Kings Heath/Moseley/etc, I’d go into Birmingham centre and then get a number 50 bus out. Purely on a whim, I decided this time to get off the 126 at Bearwood and get an 11a4 to Kings Heath. I’d never done that run before, and so (almost inevitably) ended up getting off somewhere around Cotteridge5. Figuring that it was less than a couple of miles, I decided to walk rather than just spend the next however-long waiting for another bus.
I missed Mothertrucker, then6. Blast.
Alabaster Suns were therefore the first band I saw and they didn’t really amaze me. They had some tricky rhythms and a few squally guitar bits between all the riffola, but mostly seemed like meat & potatoes metal. Many seem to hold them in high regard, though, so it’s probably wisest to ignore li’l ol’ me.
Baroness were great7. The can go on a bit and they can be a touch guilty of ramming a bunch of riffs together in lieu of anything that feels like a song, but only on occasions. For the most part they’re ace. They always manage to be a lot more fun and bouncy than one might expect, but still marry that to interesting non-straightforward songs. I wouldn’t want to lay the ‘prog’ word on too thick here ‘cos I don’t think it sums them up too well, but they are sort of proggy as well as sort of thrashy and occasionally a bit sludgy. Awesome stuff. Loud, too, although still not as loud as the first time I saw them.
Saturday the 18th was the occasion to go to Busk. Or an equivalent, at least. The establishment in question used to be the British United Services Club, then became known as Busk. Latterly it has become the site of the new Edwards No. 8 rock club8, but I have no idea at all if the building is now officially called that, or is still named Busk, or what. A strange venue, anyway – I didn’t mind the working men’s club vibe9, but alas the Eddies-ism makes itself heavy-handedly known by means of crappy murals on the walls10. There was also, for some reason, a four-foot high wall in front of the stage. Precisely why such a thing might exist I do not know, but it did11.
Specific problems added to the general ones – the venue previously seems to have previously employed an in-house promoter, but he got the sack before this gig and couldn’t be bothered to turn up. Uh-huh. The soundfolks didn’t show much sign of knowing what they were doing, either.
Ah well. I arrived to hear the first band finishing, so know nothing of them.
Given my faff the week before I was keen to see Mothertrucker, but sadly they had an unfortunate one – between PA troubles, bass amp troubles, drumkit-falling-apart troubles and the general bad sound on the top of it, they seemed a bit disheartened. Ah well. These things happen sometimes12.
I hadn’t seen Ramesses for ages but I like them a lot – they’re just so damn rocking. ‘Rocking’ really is the best word in this case, too. The bad sound persisted to a lesser extent, but having said that I don’t think I’ve been able to hear the vocals distinctly on any of the six times I’ve seen them. Growly riff-centric doom, they play, mostly uptempo13 but periodically melting down into a wig-out morass. The drummer (sadly) didn’t seem to be quite as much of a nutter as he has been when I’ve seen him in times past, but still: he had a cymbal with a diameter roughly approximate to the length of a blue whale14. That’ll make any band good.
Unearthly Trance were the headliners (touring with Ramesses). Someone taped me one of their albums a few years back, and I wasn’t amazed15. I quite liked them here, though. They were a lot more up-front and aggressive than I expected, with maybe some crust influences and even some Today Is The Day-esque bits alongside all the sludge and deathly doom. They had a powerful stage presence, too, with the (relatively) restrained bile directed towards the sort-of-promoter leaving us in no doubt about what they really felt. I may have to get around to having a listen to this tape again at some point.
Despite the first two bands not quite being at the peak of their powers, I’d still go for Ramesses as the band of the night. This was all ages ago, though, and more things happened before and since and in-between the gigs herementioned. A catch-up post will be necessary soon.
1) As I believe the yoot dem would have it.
2) They may also have sold out as a result of Fate punishing me in non-linear-time for making up the ugly neologism ‘obtainance’.
3) There was some of that a bit later – I’ve since been to see Mumbling Americo-Folk Soothsayer Bob Dylan (there y’go, Bounds).
4) Anticlockwise version of the number 11, i.e. the Birmingham outer circle route. Used to be known as the 11w, until the word ‘widdershins’ fell out of fashion. Brummies tend to see it as the most bus-like bus that ever dared to bus (just look at this if you don’t believe me), but being a Yam I find that the 126 and the 404 tend to fulfil that role for me.
5) It did look like Kings Heath in the twilight. Or maybe it didn’t and I’m just thick. One of these things is a far safer bet than the other16.
6) Although I’m told they were very good.
7) Probably the second best of the three times I’ve seen them.
8) The previous version burned down, apparently because someone let off a firework in the toilets. Well, of course. Completely plausible.
9) I’ve heard that some people did/do.
10) It goes without saying that it’s always A Very Bad Thing to lose venues, but a small consolation to be had when the previous Eddies was consumed by flame was that the nasty paintings of rock stars and horror characters on walls would perish with it. Alas, more have been created. The new one of Kiss is particularly unedifying.
11) That may have sounded misleading, now that I re-read it: the stage was raised a bit and the wall was about that tall from the floor. It was still enough to completely obscure Chaz from view when he kneeled down to operate his sample-triggering boxes o’ tricks at the end of Mo’Tro’s set17. I do mean ‘wall’ when I say ‘wall’ – it was solid, not railings or anything like that. Baffling. Whoever built Busk must really have worried about teh stage invayshunz.
13) By genre standards, that is.
14) This is an exaggeration, but not much of one18.
15) A spot of searching – physical, not Google – tells me that this was “In The Red”.
16) Clue: the second one.
17) Admittedly I am a shortarse. There are a lot of things in this world I can’t see over.
18) This is also an exaggeration, but not much of one.