Live at Warehouse on Sunday, 27th June 2004
Bands old and new played to an expectant Warehouse on Sunday, as legendary rock gig 'The Valley' resurrected itself from the ashes.
Rock night at 'The Valley' or Woodkirk as it was also known, had become a well-established social event for people of all ages with any musical taste. Letting them sample the finest and sometimes the freakiest of musical talent that Leeds has to offer.
Now based at The Warehouse, and endowed with the kind of equipment that would make a Blue Whale blush, 'The Valley' is set once again to pull in many great bands from all over the country a give that little bit extra for everyone.
What makes these gigs that little bit different is the time which the bands play, with the venue opening at 2:30pm and closing later in the evening.
This unusual playing time works well in the context of what's trying to be achieved, with a much more laid back atmosphere and that floaty feeling that comes only getting pissed in the afternoons. (Only for the privilege of the over eighteens obviously, the wee terrors can merely be content with spilling cola down their knee length slipknot hoodies).
So with four bands on the line-up, it looked like a promising start to an event, which will soon become as established, if not more so, than it used to be.
First up on stage today were Sofa Pirates. A band who had me conjuring images of floating somewhere in the south Caribbean, plundering booty on a magical sailing couch. That, or a crazy bunch of ska punkers breaking into your house in the dead of night to purloin your invaluable front room bottom rest.
Fortunately for the gathered masses, it was neither of these two aforementioned images. It was in fact a very young but otherwise sane band from the dark underworld of Morley.
This was a band, who like every other band in the entire world have to start somewhere, where they will end up I don't know, (Governors of California for all I care...) but for the present sake of writing this article, I shall persevere with a review.
Yes, this was a band that from the music they were making don't have a massive amount of experience, yet each member of the band was competent enough, and ballsy enough to get on stage and play their bollocks (or rude lady bits) off for the viewing pleasure of the audience.
Their songs were very reminiscent of Spunge, Reel Big Fish and other bands from that happy-go-lucky genre, yet at the same time, there was a subtle underlying aggressiveness to the punky riffs they were playing, as if at any moment they might suddenly break into 'Rain in Blood' by Slayer, but just weren't sure when to do it.
Each song in the set had its own melody and different structure, but dynamically were very similar, clean guitars and bass, with fast drumming followed by a sung narrative as opposed to melodic vocal harmonies.
This is a band like any other young band are yet to find their feet completely, they're standing up just, but with one hand on the table for a little bit of support (I was gonna say sofa, but then nearly wet myself with the ironic humour of it all).
I have no doubts that a band with two people (a wee boy and a wee girl) up front who couldn't give two shits what anyone thinks, with the ability to get on stage and wail along with the rest of their band and enjoy themselves immensely have the ability to develop in to a much more rounded and professional act with a sound much more of their own.
Accolade - hailing from the stables of 'ARB promotions' this was a band I had never heard before, but like any fantastically good-looking music critic (such as myself) I was not about to let that put me off.
Here was a band that did have a stage presence, and could have quite happily been playing Glastonbury with the same kind of laid-back attitude with which they performed at the warehouse. It was this confidence and general malaise, which filtered through their music and made you think of getting stoned with your mates on a sunny afternoon at some random festival in Lowestoft.
The music they played carried a very professional edge and I think was given an extra dimension by an extremely competent guitar player and keyboardist who together seamlessly crafted musical verse together to give a very well thought out band that little something else.
The band's back line also managed to lift what could've easily been another bland rock band to something with a little bit more panache. Viewing pleasure of the day has to be given to the drummer who looked as though he had chronic piles and for the entire forty-minute set bounced around at the back of the stage like an absolute maniac. But lest me not tarnish his ability, for a competent and knowledgeable drummer he was.
Although an excellent front man and good vocalist, I felt that had the lead singer really opened up, this band would've blown me away. It seemed when all other members were giving 100 percent, that the lead vocalist was only pushing 90 percent. I was pleading to hear some raw emotion from the front man but felt like I got a 'we called, but you weren't in' card instead.
Musically I felt that this was a band that have long established their own sound and know exactly where they're coming from. With similarities to band such as Travis and Coldplay, but with a shot of steroids from the likes of James and Oasis and even older bands such as the Who, I feel that on their day this is a band who could knock the socks off other acts with much more recognition than themselves.
Seven Acres - despite having a name which reminded me of a rehab clinic for American celebrities, this was a band that I really enjoyed listening to. In at the younger end, looking at maybe 17 or 18 years old again, this was a band that had definitely taken an American and slightly more commercially viable look to the musical wants of the younger generation.
With wisps of bands such as Lost Prophets, Funeral for a Friend and definitely Incubus in their melting pot, this was a band that I can easily believe people paying good money to see. The annoying thing is the music they play is ideal for attracting really fit girls, who are emotionally better equipped to deal with the emo fringe on which these guys played.
Again we saw the use of a keyboard and again I was surprised (and maybe even slightly aroused) at how well it blended the music together, bringing an edge of professionalism to the songs.
With an accomplished musician behind each instrument this band sounded and looked the part but again I would suggest an element of time and energy for them to create their own path, and become a band in their own right; as opposed to a band who rely slightly too much on their peers for inspiration.
The concluding band of the afternoon's show was the ever hyper-charged AB Negative. Bounding around on stage like a bunch of goldfish that had just been put in a pint of beer, the Leeds-based punk triplet kicked off their adrenaline-fuelled gig with a fantastic rendition of 'I got it Bad' with a whacking pace that failed to slow throughout.
With new drummer, the mighty Dave Collins gurning away and happily stick mashing behind his kit, the band have gained a much more accomplished sound, blending modern punk sounds without losing the ol' skool punchy rawness that has made them favourites with fans of all ages and genres.
Frontman and guitarist Darren Gray's songwriting has also improved dramatically since I last had the pleasure of seeing these punk upstarts. Gone is the Sid Vicious cloning and in its place is Darren's own disturbed and manic image (think a cross between Malcolm McDowell from 'A Clockwork Orange' and the goblin from the Sprite adverts).
Yet again it was unsurprising to see Bassist Ashley Munroe in shorts (buy some trousers!!!!!) I think I have yet to see the experienced four-stringer in anything longer than knee length. But this aside, Ashley flawlessly provided the thumping bass line for the band's set, featuring songs such as 'Is this what you wanted' and 'Suffocating' from this year's exceptionally punktastic (cheese... mmmm) EP 'The Upper Crust'.
I spoke to Darren after the gig and in true Leeds band style, he denounced the gig with those famous words 'Yeah, we were shit'. But in unfortunately for Darren, Dave and Ashley, the audience watching seemed to disagree quite strongly. With rapturous applause and a strong feeling of enjoyment throughout the entire set.
Here is a band that has gone from strength to strength during my absence from the Leeds music scene and I would highly recommend that anyone with an interest in live music check them out, quite simply, before they explode.