Live at HiFi Club on Friday, 30th July 2004
The monthly TTS, or the Tea Time Shuffle, could soon become an institution. It's Friday, it's 6 o'clock, the Hi-Fi bar is well and truly open and 3 and a half of Leeds finest bands are playing before your increasingly Southern Comforted eyes and all for just a fiver.
I say three and a half because Spring and Steer fail to leave much of an impression. Spring play nice blues tinged soul rock. It's ok but far from great. They start the set by meandering through prime time radio fodder, their songs blending into an amorphous slab of tunery. During song 3, you can almost imagine them playing at a high school disco as the credits role on a schmaltzy film and the two unsuspecting goons tall in love. The band also throw down some rather forced rock shapes, leaving you wondering whether your mum would like the CD for her birthday. In the words of a true MILF, it don't impress me much.
Steer then take us into a parallel universe where Keane have discovered guitars and have accidentally stumbled upon Geneva in the shower. Sadly the falsetto vocals do them no favours, merely detracting from the operatic guitar Musings while at times they sound like they're covering old 007 songs. The band do recover mid-set however with a rock stomper sent from above. The drums crescendo as brooding, swirling bass smashes their previous niceties into oblivion, perhaps hinting there may be some rock gems hidden beneath the fools gold.
On a more unconventional note, Yellow Stripe Nine take to the stage, with the lead singer beaming from ear to here in his Barry Manilow white suit. Snazzy. Fashion faux pas aside, their quirky blend of Franz art-house and off the wall titles like 'Needledick from Heaven' have the growing crowd surging forward. Importantly, the band visibly enjoy themselves, revelling in the attention like naughty schoolboys, all the while teasing the Hi-Fi with stop/start rhythms and full on Bryan Ferry fun. Even their initially dour and dieted Staypuft alike Bassist pitches in, chucking dynamic riffs into the mixing tin, giving the YSN experience real bit and substance.
Joining in the acronym fun, VIB GYOR (colours of the rainbow backward) come on stage to some of the most OTT compering around. Unbelievably, they nearly, ever so nearly justify it. Booming, note perfect vocals drench the crowd in gristled emotion, while the real Team Handsome backing band storm from Mogwai-ish epics to soft and sentimental epics, effortlessly drawing you into their world of sound. Some songs begin rather slowly, struggling to catch your attention and at time slipping towards Starsailor territory. However, they then unleash windswept riffs, gloriously destroying any MOR tendencies with beautifully syncopated pop, painting huge swathes of beautiful soundscapes before your ears. Simply epic.
It's a hard act to follow but four day Hombre leave the competition for dead. The band look as disparate as is possible, mixing and matching styles to create a rather dislocated appearance but fortunately for us, a perfect musical hybrid. They defy categorisation, some songs forcing their way to your ears through breakbeat bullishness, others drifting towards your ears like a male Beth Orton on steroids. The best of the bunch is their first single. The guitar led epic strolls then struts then marches into your consciousness, before the synapse snapping, belting piano bit kicks in, leaving you clutching your jaw and your heart. Even better, the band announce it as having "pissed all over the Cheeky Girls in the charts." Now there's a thought for you.
The encore seals the deal though. The chemistry between the band threatens to explode, nods are given and behemoth bass notes growl from the speakers, climaxing into yet another ear crushing breakdown. It's a vivid affirmation of life, love and music as the sinister chords are perfectly counterbalanced by sugar sweet vocals. Instruments held aloft, the smiling band exit to a black slab of feedback Kubrick would be proud.
Same time next month then.