Live at Joseph's Well on Friday, 13th July 2001
A forte of young bands tonight graced the Well on Friday night. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think there was one performer tonight that was older than 20 and many were under 18. Now quite a few young bands can be really embarrassing to watch, but I was hoping to be proved wrong tonight.
First up, we had the youngest band of the night with STEALTHMAN taking to the stage. I've seen this band a few times before so I roughly knew what to expect, but they had a few tricks up their sleeve in the shape of new songs. Quite amazing for a young band, what we had was REAL songs, with REAL tunes and hooks. Something I always like doing is trying to spot out the influences in people's music. Apart from Will the singer's SFA t-shirt and maybe the occasional suggestion of something like Smashing Pumpkins, their songs have originality and identity. A very well paced and dynamic set all in all, veering between melodic acoustic driven numbers and full out rockers. All they need is a bit of a time to improve their onstage finesse and weed out a few of the weaker tunes and we should have a seriously excellent band. Random crowd comment: "good drumming".
Next up were three piece CHEVRON, their frontman looking a bit like a strawberry blonde version of E from Eels. The band make use of the stage, hopping about like mad ones where appropriate. The guitarist and bass player seem to have spent time working together as I thought that the arrangements between these two instruments did seem quite well thought out, which is always essential for a three piece. One criticism being that they lacked tightness - not the type of 'out of time' fuck ups, just generally sloppy playing (notes miss hit, etc). The first set of songs were very normal slightly punk, kinda rocking songs. However, when the girl drummer took lead vocals for one song they struck me as being quite Yo La Tengo like, very fey and melodic. What followed was a big instrumental, kind of like the thing that Sonic Youth have got to a tee, which was really cool, before they turned back to the sound of the first few songs, dogged by technical problems where one of the guitars seemed to just die. Nasty. It was all in all quite rocking, despite all the problems.
To top off our trio of support acts, we had BYT featured DIVERSE. What was immediately obvious was the effective use of the duo vocalists. For some reason the lack of bass didn't affect their sound as much as I thought it would, but when they invited a new bass player to the stage for the last few tunes the sound improved dramatically. One thing that Diverse showed tonight was their ability not to over-complicate the music with instrumental and arrangement nuances and just focus on the melody and the tunes. This definitely worked really well. Maybe their name is slightly misleading too as all of the songs are minor key guitar pop songs, but it didn't grate at all, far from it. This isn't what I'd listen to at home at all, so I'd call that an achievement and a half. They'd obviously brought loads of friends with them who danced and clapped along just as if they were auditioning for parts on CD-UK. Loads of fun, nice one there! Random crowd comment: "Golly, that singer's a Ricky Martin-esque Latino love machine"
Finally we had JAPANARO, featuring ex members of the now defunct One Minute Warning, I'd justify it as a very wise career move. A very impressive set for a band that are still quite new. Japanaro are a band for the kids as in evidence of tonight's turnout for them, the place is absolutely brimming. Japanaro do sound totally rocking, but kinda grungy too; one track reminding me particularly of Nirvana. That said, it is the RIFFS that make some of the songs what they are, add this to a trouser rumbling bass sound and you've clearly got one foot in the stoner camp too. Add a punk ethic and beef it up with effects pedals and you have Japanaro. Diverse as fuck. What Japanaro have is a really professional air about them, without being over-cocky at all which makes them really enjoyable to watch. The sound is a little bit blurred at first, on the opening song you're not quite what chords they were playing - but this got sorted out quickly by the soundwoman (obviously just having an off night). Vocalist Matty plays to the strengths of his voice rather than its limitations, which certainly gives it quite an odd feel, like it's been said before it DOES sound like he's singing through an effect, but it does sound really original. Like Stealthman they need time to perfect their set and sort the wheat from the chaff. I can see this band getting better and better and although they didn't grab me as being totally essential at the moment, they were really good and if you're a fan of any type of alternative music then there's far worse bands to shake your ass to!