Live at Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday, 1st June 2016
When you hear through the grapevine that 2 of Leeds' finest bands of Alternative origin are supporting a band (that you've never heard of) but are assured that they are amazing would be enough to make a regular on the local scene doff their hat and coat then walk to the nearest venue to investigate such claims. So here we are, Brudenell Social Club on a Wednesday, the infamous 'hump day' showing that no one really cares if it's a 'school night' or not, what surprises us is that the gig has now been moved into the main room - no complaints, mind!
Furr (Formerly known as Humans As Ornaments) are the openers for the show. After releasing some songs and gaining a vast amount of international critical acclaim, as well as being played on BBC Radio 1 and Radio X. It's great to see this lot pumped and sounding like they've matured - a lot.
Opening with "Back Around", a bit of an older track but certainly one of their best and a bookshelf breaking banger to open with. Considering the reputation of The Brudenell, it's no coincidence to say that this is the best Furr have sounded this year on account of being able to pick out the clarity of each instrument yet sounding cohesive and complete. A rare treat indeed considering this lot are on par with local legends Dinosaur Pile Up, so hearing the more subtler tones on offer was wonderful indeed. In particular, Sam's guitar stood out like a rag doll at a ballet albeit with more grace as it joined the rest of the performance.
By the second track Jack's singing is made out to be wonderfully unique on "Padlocks" as if a voluptuous magpie could join in the morning chorus of birds and steal the main vocal line so effortlessly, drawing attention to - yet overpowering - the arrangement of instruments. John's drumming making it clear at the end of the song that this might not be the case! Jack's vocals become a powerhouse that duck and dove between the instruments effortlessly, further proven in the next track. This tune carries a darker edge however, as if Weezer decided to write a Death Cab For Cutie song but forgot to write a compelling script, instead defiling the melancholy with a kick in the teeth via the overwhelming wall of sound following the track.
It becomes apparent through this song that Furr's songwriting style is what makes this band stand out so much.
The only hiccup that occurred was one of the most common - dropping a drum stick - but that didn't stop their flow at all, instead of pre-madonna antics the band merely laughed at each other and didn't miss a beat. Hard to criticise them at all considering it was midway through the debut track "Think Sharp Kid", as it could be considered a twist of ironic fate given the track's title.
Ending with a new track that sounded as angry as Jack looked and finally busting out "Stretched Thin" - An anthem for the deluded, angry and frustrated 9-5ers that seemed to rally the dead into joining the band for a rally against injustice in the workplace. It feels like Furr have more than what they are showing us on offer.... we can't wait to see what else they come out with in the coming months...
Already having a fantastic track record of live performances, festival slots and radio play, it's no surprise that Fizzy Blood were going to put on a good show and look fan-flipping-tastic while they did it. From looking sharp, sexy and sophisticated in all black (I know right?) to Ciaran's bass face which resembles a monkey trying to eat a hot lemon - they are indeed a band that are fizzling with energy that passes into the audience, further raising the atmosphere in the room. But who knows, they could have eaten a load of bacon sandwiches and had excess flatulence, all I know is that they raised the already high bar set by Furr.
Without any further ado apart from saying 'Hello" they had launched into the almighty "Queen Of Hearts" and judging from the response from the crowd it had every head bobbing like a boat stuck in a storm with a chorus of lost souls screaming the words right back at them. Good start.
"Patience" was next up, a particularly strong track emboldened by vocal harmonies angels would cry at and a main riff that a pack of angry velociraptors could have eaten and been satisfied with - considering how meaty it is.
All fiery, fanciful hell broke loose even more when Paul started to scream into the microphone provoking a ripple of excitement throughout the crowd, further fuelled by the snarling and seductive tones of Benji, making for a thunder most pleasant to enjoy.
With a break promising the release of a new album and a heartfelt love towards his mum, dad and girlfriend for all the support which did thrum a few heartstrings. A wickedly dark song came on next with trembling guitars, discordant licks in between chords that had a drooling choral line which sparked Ciaran to leer into the crowd causing a strange reaction of warmth and confusion - truly the mark of a loveable madman. Suddenly the band scattered as if possessed by crows and then a reprise of the chorus weighted with guilt, dripping attitude and full of frustration caps the tune off. Hats fall off and then the breakdowns Fizzy have been come to be known for starts melting faces.
A newer track comes into the foray which has not really been played before with some memorable lyrics "I know I can be a little over the top, that's why I need you so my mind don't wander off" (Correct me if I got that wrong!) that seem to display a more sentimental side to the band with more of an emotive drive behind the composition of the song which was overall a refreshing experience. Always a heavy sweat inducing set by the Fizzy Blood boys.
Vukovi were next up as the main headliners. Now expectations were set high after a track had been heard prior to the gig thus removing the suspicions that one would be duped into thinking that the band would be anything less than spectacular.
Admittedly, first impressions of the band set bands like Prodigy, Pendulum (Very Early) and Enter Shikari into the playing field so naturally one would be excited.
First off the bat during the performance it felt as if a more relaxed version of Orchards were taking to the stage, albeit with more tight fitting sports gear and fluorescent adornments on their clothing bar the lead singers' (most excellent) choice of sequinned crop top. Without much of a warning you are thrown into a vast duvet full of delay, spacey vibes, noise and glitter. Heavy, vast swathes of intense guitar and bass tones accompanied by blasted, tight beats that was topped by a very ethereal singer that seemed to float over everything. So far, so good.
Following the next few tracks in which a Fender Jaguar was used making the enormity of the tracks more realised due to the symbiotic relationship with the Orange amps that the guitarist was using. Truly establishing the band's sound with this setup really added to the overall feel of the opening tracks.
By the third song ("Second Sons" possibly) there was what is know in Nu-Metal circles as 'Bounce', invariably curing much of the crowd to carry out said movement, all inhaling the fantastical delay drug vapour that flowed from the speakers. Coupled with the drummer's 'Can'-like flow underpinning the track that burst, banged and beat out the last bars of the track.
The most memorable track was next up titled "Gutless" instantly conjuring up memories of Pretty Girls Make Graves but with a drop reminiscent of Enter Shikari with more of an audible groove to it, backed up by killer vocals and stylish synth. A criticism came to mind though, 'Where did the synth come from?' with no obvious source for the sounds the mind began to question the validity of their performance as being limited to the members on stage. Perhaps they had a ninja on their crew?
With this question gently burning at the back of the mind, the rest of the set rumbled and thundered past rather well. The fusion of fuzz, synth, phat bass and spacey vocals became a staple for the rest of the songs thereafter - blasted intermittently by the drummer's enthusiastic beats - which seemed to prove that the drummer is the most important aspect of Vukovi. Despite all these adjectives and colourful language it becomes apparent after reflection that none of the songs have gripped this reviewer's attention. Don't think that enjoyment was not had, nor a spectacle was being enjoyed at the time, it just felt that some of the songs lacked conviction or variety compared to the support acts.
Moving into the final phase of their set, Vukovi began pumping some hip hop beats that appeared to have some altruistic feel to them, drawing some of the audience members back into their hypnotic act. "Weirdo" was the name of the track, invoking Marmozets and spewing forth a glittery space-infused math rock inspired track as a result. At some point during the track, the lead singer picks up someone's phone as they are filming and takes it on stage to film the whole band - pretty cool idea and generous for the person who was filming at the time! That is until this was repeated numerous times before the end which felt a little disingenuous as this was done again and again.
The rest of the set began to drift by with songs sounding very indistinguishable from the next which was a shame for this reviewer as the distance began to grow between myself and the band, the last thing registered was that the crowd interaction was on point, most notably towards the end where "1, 2, 3, HEY!" was wrought from the audience. Arguably if you like Vukovi and are reading this, you could be thinking 'But this review seems so conflicting, why does it not continually praise them?' and will be answered thusly;
They started out strong with a sound that could take on complex star navigator sound systems and win, yet towards the middle of the set and thereafter it became apparent that this was all they had to offer and in places it felt forced while in other instances it felt disingenuous. Now this could just be me, but nothing grabbed me by the ears and demanded I listen again but if you enjoyed them, it was a most excellent gig to catch them at with a great set of support acts too.