Live at Cardigan Arms on Friday, 9th July 2004
Leeds' local punk, emo and ska promoters Strikepunks put on a veritable banquet of emo hardcore deliciousness this Friday, as the Cardigan Arms played host to four hot new bands playing the circuit for nothing more than that which is the greatest love of all, that wonderful love of music...
First up of the nights bands were the slightly hairy and slightly tattooed Twist Eye. Coming from that well to do and quite up market town of Barnsley, this was an act that had no problems filling the stage as the nights first band.
Launching quickly into their first song of quite a brief set, the heavy but melodic compound structure of this band nearly knocked the enamel from my two front teeth. Here was a bunch of guys that obviously has some dark and sinister metal skeletons in their closet, but at the same time, has the tortured innocence of post hardcore to politely ask if I was ok.
This blend or transition from balls out metal to post hardcore that Twist Eye have gone through has definitely benefited them in the long run. Unlike many bands of the same genre, here is a band that understands what being heavy is. It is not about screaming over clean guitars; with the bassist playing discordant A minor scales with his toes, whilst the drummer manically plays 7/4 time with his elbows. At times yes, I agree it can be, (funny to watch I also imagine) but most of the time it's about badass fuckin' dirty groove. And here is a band that knows this.
Throughout the band's set it was clear to see that here was a bunch of very dedicated musicians, who understood each other enough have an ability to let their music just flow. Even after the set I overheard them discussing the band's next jam, where as any other nondescript band would be walking around after girls saying (adopt gruff, deep voice) 'Hey buby, I'm in a band...'
With each song distinctly being made its own the song 'Decisions Dedicated to a Replica' was one such song that stood out. With its intense (and I mean intense like sticking a red hot iron to the side of your face intense) chorus, here was a song that not only screamed of the fraying of emotional psyche, but managed to force the audience to understand fully where it was coming from as well.
I felt that the short set which the band were forced into playing suited them well, as it became more of a showcase of talent for the band, as they surely will have left out weaker material (but who knows? They may well have done what the Czechs did against the Germans and fielded a reserve 'team' of songs to the unwitting audience.)
But by the end of their set Twist Eye had made perfectly sure that they knew the score, and with the last anthemic song, 'Reflection of Mirrors' stamped their authority on the evening and raised the standard for the rest of the night.
Following a brief respite, next to ascend the throne were the ever angular and über jutting, Leeds 3-piece Rays of Helios. First impressions of this band did not look promising, but as many a bald headed, orange curtain wearing, Zen Buddhist monk will tell you, first impressions can be deceiving.
Forming only in the December of last year, but already with a 7" vinyl release due at the end of July on 'Art for the Blind' records, here is a band who despite their quirky and sometimes drug influenced songmanship, are actually really quite good.
The stigma that a band such as Rays of Helios carry is often viewed in a negative light. Comparisons to 'At The Drive In' can immediately be heard in their skitty, twitchy music, but this is not necessarily a dimmed connotation. If we think of the diverse and often unhinged originality of 'At The Drive In', surely we must pay attention to the Rays of Helios? And so the audience did, and did they enjoy it? Well, for want of a better word, yes.
With many a technical hitch and vast apologies for sounding 'ropey' Rays of Helios still managed to pull out a blinding gig. It was as if the technical problems (which dogged the bands all night) and indeed self-proclaimed 'ropeyness' added to the overall feel of the band, as just a broken and shattered, but functioning perfectly well machine. Each song of the set seemed like the first flight of a fledgling seagull, it twisted and turned and dived and skittered looked like it was going to crash into a lamppost, but somehow, in some magical leprechaun way, it didn't. The songs were complete and well-balanced, and the audience relished this fact.
With hints of Muse, Fugazi and Gomez all floating around in their neon melting pot, not to mention the whiff of D.C hardcore amalgamated with this project, this is the kind of music that the uneducated townie could never, ever, get their Burberry laden heads around. It's just too broad-minded and eclectic to sit with their feeble, unevolved minds.
The thing with this band is that they could never really be put in the same genre as the other acts of tonight. They're just too adverse to fall into any specific category. This band seem to have been enveloped by a genre which is now an all consuming beast, (think Kelly Osborne) classifying anything that is slightly similar in the same vein. But somehow, Rays of Helios managed to prove quite convincingly that they are just slightly off the beaten track when it comes to making music and it is without doubt a breath of fresh air.
With half of the show already gone, and the booze flowing freely throughout both the audience and bands alike, it was time for The River Club to take the stage and step into their leg hugging, forever cool, leather rock pants as we preceded with the latter half of the night's show.
Stepping up and aligning themselves for the first song of the night, it was surprising to learn that this was only the 4-piece clan from Hastings' 7th gig. Playing with a kind of soulful confidence that really should only come with gigging for a fair amount of time, they held the stage like they were falling off the end of the world and the audience were obviously very much impressed with this self proclaimed 'synth emo rock' band.
The problem with there being four bands on at a show like this is that support is always a difficult spot to play. Often it is hard to keep an air of anticipation in the crowd for the last act, as well as exciting the punters enough to make them want to hear what your band has got to say.
The River Club filled this slot well, displaying a fine performance of good solid emo core. With their musical range varying dramatically from intense, noise-core crazed crazy craziness, to intimate whispers, the kind you would only share with someone you love, this was a band who knew how to transcend emotions with their music.
It was a well received display of emo and post hardcore grind that was given an icy chill of diversity with the lead singer Dan using a machine that made noises I can only assume are the kind you would normally hear before being abducted by a superior race of alien badgers, or the noise your brain would make the instance your head exploded.
Either way, with a promising short tour soon to be underway reaching world famous rock venues in Kendal, Leicestershire and not forgetting Barnsley, and including a machine that makes very silly noises indeed, this is a band that I feel will be knocking on some very big doors in the future.
The last band of this successful, if not a little warm night is the never dull spectacle of the awesome Fifth Goodbye.
The set started at a blazing and intense pace, a rendition of 'Get with the Plan' which saw drummer Rob trying to hammer the living shit out of his kit with enough power to force the poor thing into an early grave. This coupled with the fact that guitarist Brad's lead was the only thing stopping him from sprinting up the walls, teeth gnashing, made for a brilliant sight alone, even without the force of the music.
These intense but controlled blasts of power and noise from all members of the band were a thrilling spectacle to behold. With lead singer(s) Mig and Ian encompassing and controlling the crowd with their vocal responsibilities, it was quite clear that this is a band who have not only developed their own sound, but gone through puberty with it as well, and are know a big fuck off bloke of a band.
With sounds as diverse as the rock edge of the Foo Fighters and the emotional constraint of Funeral for a Friend, right through to the more rhythmical and structural prowess of bands such as Sikth, the sounds coming from this quartet was astounding considering the band can't yet have a member over the age of twenty.
As the show went on the band became more and more intense and I was seriously contemplating whether or not a few of the members (Brad especially) had been licking any Amazonian tropical frogs of late. With a smile on his face and an a dilated pupil in each eye Brad jumped and twitched about like he was having a brain aneurysm and yet still managed to make his guitar sing and squeal like a virgin on her third date.
What is good to see in this band is now an ability to replace old crowd pleasers such as 'Bandstand' 'Home' and 'In amber' with newer more updated songs and still have the ability to pull off an all round 110% show.
My only criticism of a band such as Fifth Goodbye would be that they are not playing bigger venues, and there is not enough of them to share out between the masses, which in itself is a shame but it is unlikely that a band of this calibre has yet reached its peak or indeed attracted anywhere near its potential fan base. Also-rans? Don't think so.