Live at Brudenell Social Club on Thursday, 17th February 2005
Tonight really didn't start well. After I'd encountered the frankly bizarre system of a 'paying guestlist' (?) we are told that due to technical difficulties, original support act Printed Circuit had to pull out, so enter Hood keys man Gareth Spencer and his side project The Unpleasants. At times it grates, yet in others, its pretty, twinkling sounds over some scant beats and cut 'n paste rhythms are rather endearing. It's still pretty quiet stuff, so when he starts 'playing', the roar of conversation from the crowd all but drowns him out. Ironically, it's only when the speakers keep blowing due to some more technical difficulties that everyone snaps to attention.
If you like The Unpleasants' brand of lo-fi electronica, may I suggest you try Takagi Masakatsu, or Frakkur, as both sound fairly similar.
Up next is Semi Squared, and yet again, some more technical difficulties, as he has to stop and start his set at the beginning due to it being "really fucking quiet". Once he gets going though, it's a mix of breakneck techno-ish beats, over some warped and skewed sounds, by what looks suspiciously like a PlayStation up on stage. It's heavy stuff once he's in full flow, and as the beats pound, and the weird samples of random people talking are pushed and pulled by his techno wizadry, he finds his groove.
With music like his though (everyone's on their own nowadays!) it's understandably hard to try and translate to a live stage, but he does it well, and by the end of it, you're not really sure if he's finished or not, as most of his tracks seem to flow into one.
After a brief interlude, and myself and a mate get comfy up front, Hood arrive.
Now, even before they start it looks like it's going to be a memorable gig. Not on the stage where they maybe should be, Hood play on the floor, making the packed Brudenell shift and squeeze onto the available floor space left, or stand at the back. Half the crowd is on its feet, half on its arse. It's cozy and very intimate, as some people were so close to the band, you'd be forgiven for thinking they were in Hood.
The band's set kicks off with them seemingly bouncing off the walls, as the energy level is way too high, which is slightly odd, as Hood make really beautiful, melancholic music, decidedly downbeat in nature.
However, after a few songs, they settle down and find their feet. It's an exhilarating few songs too, as they switch gears from the pretty set opener 'Whatever Hopeful Thoughts Arrive', wherein drummer Richard gets a bit thrown off by that sampled beat, straight through to the remarkable rendition of still-my-favourite-Hood-song 'They Removed All Trace That Anything Had Ever Happened Here', which sees Hood right at the top of their game, and so tight, fraught and brilliant, that there's not a bum note after that.
Kudos to the drumming too - frenzied, loud, and most definitely a highlight of tonight's show, it's a lesson how to punish a drum kit. And yet in other parts of the set, it's just a backdrop to the other beautiful tones the band are laying down. With the added pressure of getting his drumming in time with the jittery, skittish beats that make up the samples, he does a terrific job.
Speaking of backdrops, the infamous Hood projector is having trouble tonight, so it has to be sacrificed. That's right, that's even more technical difficulties. I think it was just one of those nights to be honest, but thanks to Hood for coming to the rescue.
Other set highlights include a rendition of 'Cold House' favourites 'You Show No Emotions At All' and the beautiful 'When Branches Bare'.
A run through of songs old and new helps the time simply fly by. "Boo, play the old stuff" Chris jokes as he introduces the new Hood single.
Off by eleven due to stringent noise pollution laws, well, that and a certain band from Rhode Island, as Chris explains - "we have to be off by eleven... don't blame us, blame Lightning Bolt'.
The loop of their gracious goodbye keeps rolling round and around well after they've left the stage, which is a very strange experience, as all you can hear is some random guitar noise, and then "thank you, goodnight" on a loop.
It's good to see so many people turn out for such an under-rated local band such as Hood, and as everyone leaves, I'm pretty sure that contented feeling won't leave for a good while yet.