Live at Joseph's Well on Wednesday, 23rd October 2002
Last Wednesday's show at Joseph's Well brought together three bands who complemented each other very well. A spacey rock band sandwiched between two pop-rock acts made for a night that combined good things from a couple of semi-related musical worlds.
The first band, Flowered Third took the stage a little after eight and played a good pop-rock set. They were quite easy to listen to, but not very entertaining to watch. Their lead vocalist was a tad unemotional, as he didn't move much from his straight-backed standing position in front of the microphone. Perhaps this had something to do with the small size of the crowd (perhaps fifty strong) failing to motivate him, or perhaps that's his typical manner. However he did play some very melodic, linear solos, and even threw in a few well placed exotic sounding scale runs without sounding pretentious or seeming like he was trying too hard. Their songs were also quite well put together, combining harmonies more complex than basic pop rock, and some well placed dissonance. This is band showed very good taste, managing to throw a little bit of flash in places, but not sacrificing the song on the altar of intellectualism.
Now imagine this. The boys in Radiohead start hanging out with the guys from Phish, who manage to convince them that what their music needs is longer instrumental jam sections. Then Tool show up at the party and say "Yeah, but make the songs really long. And then change your name to 'Serotonin' and play every song with the intensity of a band who will never be able to play another song again." And then Radiohead say "Okay!" The resulting music would be something along the lines of the second band I heard on Wednesday.
Huddersfield-based Serotonin took the stage and from the first sound effect completely blew me away. This five piece combines guitar, bass, and drums with spacey textures courtesy of loops and various other electronic elements, plus the effects that guitarists Alec and Adam run their Fenders through. The only downside to the act was that the audience could hear the click track the band was using to keep themselves in time. Not that one can blame them. They were missing their bandmate Nick, the one usually responsible for their programming and electronic sounds, which meant that guitarist Adam had to pull double-duty, playing guitars and running loops. You wouldn't have guessed though. Serotonin were very tight, navigating long complicated songs, complete with difficult rhythm changes, energetically and with easy concentration. It's not a wonder that they are garnering interest from some big labels, including Virgin, EMI, and Universal. This is a band to watch.
The third band, Slightly Alien, were a basic four piece rock band that obviously has been influenced by a number of different acts who they've managed to blend together into a cohesive sound. The most obvious comparison is with Alien Ant Farm, but that is at least partially to do to the clothing style and dance moves of the lead vocalist. They were definitely a fun band with good energy, the kind you'd want at your party. Their three part harmonies were a nice touch, and their guitarist exhibited striking maturity in his playing. I think the best way to describe a band like this is "Good Stuff". They weren't the most impressive band of the evening, but they were definitely the most fun.