Live at Joseph's Well on Friday, 16th February 2001
I've always thought band names are important. They can say a lot about the band itself, or its music: like New Order, Spiritualized or Fear Factory. But some can just be cool words or cool sounding things, such as Blur, Foo Fighters or the Inspiral Carpets. Then there are rubbish band names. Comedy band names never do well - you don't see the Llama Farmers or Milky Wimpshake hitting the Top Ten, do you? I think my favourite and simultaneously least favourite band name that's ever existed belonged near-legendary East Yorkshire punk-metallers Dogshit. The great thing about Dogshit was that they took a slightly new direction at one point, and decided they needed a new name, so went for the snappier, catchier and equally hilarious Shit. Only a band from Goole could do that. Anyway, Phluid is a fairly good name that falls into the 'cool word' category, but, regardless of their music, Galo and Sapp are two of the less good names I've heard recently round these parts, along with Jealous Rage, Sentimental Conclusion, The Music, goad, Lesbian Bus Ride and the as-yet-ungigged Thrush Pussy. I think that if you're confident about your band you should have a name that reflects this. Now both Galo and Sapp are really good bands, but their names don't inspire confidence. Enough of the soap box anyway.
SAPP were up first and impressed me a great deal with a rocking set drawing influences from Seattle that incredibly aren't Nirvana which is a bit of a first. Their sound isn't entirely original but at the same time isn't entirely unoriginal either. They're like a cross between Faith No More, Soundgarden, the Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam, with the vocalist sounding very Chris Cornell/Eddie Vedder at times. This is a good start though: two of the best singers in contemporary music. He just needs to develop his own voice a little more. The same goes for the band, really: they need their own sound a bit more. That's not to say they're no good - on the contrary, Sapp are a great live band: Incredibly tight and well-rehearsed, with lung-busting vocals, some mean guitar work and some interesting time changes - I especially liked the 7/8 bit in the penultimate song. Keyboards add texture and a different twist on proceedings, but the worst thing about Sapp was their lack of confidence on stage. Their music is quite confrontational but they lack the controlled aggression that could make them a brilliant live act. Each song was strong, but they need to believe in themselves and their music a little more. Definitely one to watch out for.
Second on are GALO. Two girls and two boys conspire to create a really original sound ranging from funk to jazz to rock to pop to reggae and back again. Several times. They are all great musicians, the bass player especially, but lack the song writing ability to back it up. They definitely have it in them, because occasionally they came out with a bit of a song that was pure class, the odd chorus here or there and the occasional middle eight was magic, but the rest of the songs for me didn't live up to this. The crowd was really appreciative though, and had plenty of feet tapping. Galo sound a bit Portishead trip-hop, a bit Cardigans quirky pop and a bit Red Hot Chili Peppers funk rock, which sounds like a rough brew but adds up to a great sound. Just not really my thing. Plus they're not the most exciting of live bands to watch. I would like to hear some recorded stuff though.
PHLUID headline the night and kick off with a newish song, Heroine, written by guitar god Robbie G. Instantly the stage is alive with more bouncing than you'd see in a Space Hopper contest and tighter trousers than you'd see, well, anywhere - this isn't the Heroine made semi-famous by the Dogs D'Amour, you understand. Phluid do punk pop rock - choruses catchier than Ebola but rock guitars that crunch and grind along like a steamroller over crisps. There's a glam element to the way they look but it's not really in their sound any more - if anything, the newer material is more RAWK than ever. In Polly, they have one of the best frontmen in Leeds, and in Ginner, they have definitely the worst comedian in... probably the country. His gonkish but amusing stage capers add to the fun, and show what Phluid are all about: fun. (Or should that be phun?). They may make the odd mistake but generally are tight as can be and any minor musical imperfections are smoothed out by a band that are brilliant to watch and listen to. But Phluid aren't just about jumping about: they've got some great pop songs up their sleeves. Oldies like Stray Day, Desolation and Weirdo mix well with newer tracks like Am I a Boy?, Dumb It Down and balls-out big rocker set closer Freak, in which I could have sworn I heard Polly's lung break. A cover of Cramps 'classic' Bikini Girls with Machine Guns with guitar tech Diddly Dave can't even ruin the mood: despite it being the weakest song, it's a good laugh. Guitarist Scottish was a little subdued tonight, but saying that he did break his wrist last week and was rendered glum by the fact he couldn't wear his guitar quite as low as Robbie, and Geoff didn't put either of his sizeable feet wrong all gig. Any rock-pop fans into 3 Colours Red, The Wildhearts, Rachel Stamp, Therapy? etc would be well-advised to catch Phluid before they all do the patented glam-rock thing and implode in a fit of drugs, girls money and booze... or day-jobs. Don't let it be the latter.