Live at Fenton on Friday, 27th January 2006
Girls are in vogue this evening at Wired, a new monthly night at The Fenton imported all the way from that other big city at the eastern end of the M62. I can't remember the last time I went to see a gig which featured a least one girl in every band and here we had three excellent bands where the girls were perhaps the main driving force behind their music.
Gritty rock three-piece Sky Larkin open proceedings in front of a venue crammed full of young indie kids. Their sound is a combination of chugging 'slacker' guitars, driving bass lines and thwacking beats from a drummer who bears an uncanny resemblance to Beck.
Their singer Katie owns a beautifully soft yet confident voice that reminds me of Sleeper's Louise Wener (to cover my arse I should say that this may have been due to the quality of the PA system) and occasionally, on songs like 'Somersault', she adopts a Korg synthesiser to make interesting beeps which offer an extra dimension to the guitars.
As far as I'm aware Sky Larkin are just starting out, and this shows with the odd missed beat here and there, but overall I'm pretty impressed. I'm sure that the Thames Whale would have been chuffed about the dedication too. Had it still been alive. Boo.
Anyway, forget Whales, The Fenton is being attacked by arrivals from planet Zorg! Actually it's Wigan's alien funk art-popsters The VCs. The large crowd in attendance love them and it's not hard to see why with band members dressed as a kinky nurse (PVC!), a Neanderthal, a mad professor and Jarvis Cocker on a skiing trip.
And their music, well, it sounds like a Space Invaders machine come to life with the added use of crazy whooshing instruments and whirring synths. They also have a song called 'Barberella' - nuff said really.
The VCs tick all the right NME boxes and I'm surprised that they haven't been signed to our very own Wrath records yet. For me, I got a little bit bored after the first few songs, but I can understand why the 'trendier' residents of the Leeds scene would go absolutely mad for them.
Now Buen Chico I am a fan of. The two songs I know well 'I Don't Care' (from the recent Dance To The Radio: Leeds compilation) and 'Killing Somebody' (from the recent Engine Room compilation) are both excellent nuggets of spiky indie pop.
The band don't look like rock stars, more like IT geeks who've had their Palmtops swapped for plectrums, but they go hell for leather on the stage banging out tune after tune, with Closer 'La La La' being particularly impressive. Good stuff. I've been sold by the second of tonight's boy/girl trios.
Finally come Palo Alto to chill us out after the pop fest of the previous bands. I didn't know what to expect from this Leeds/Manchester four piece (they fit into the 'post-rock' genre which is starting to become a dirty word around some parts) but I have to say they completely bowled me over.
Second song 'Aimless' is amazing. No other word for it. And the third 'You Should Wait' is also a class apart. Think about the pounding bass lines and huge delayed guitars from the likes of Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky and you can gather an idea of their sound. But add a more indie guitar approach and the haunting harmonies from their unique singer Elaine, then they sound like something quite different.
I've seen a few 'post-rock' bands around Leeds lately and these guys are definitely up there. As the last band of the night some members of the crowd began preparing to head home but the quality of their performance seemed to leave most people captivated and rooted to the floor.
Why aren't there more girls in bands? On tonight's quality everyone should have one.