Live at Joseph's Well on Wednesday, 11th October 2000
I saw D-Rail once before at the Rocket and thought they had a lot of potential, even if they hadn't realised it at that time. So I decided to go to Joseph's Well on Wednesday to see if they had improved, and to catch the two other bands, both of which I'd heard good things about. D-Rail were great, they'd really improved from last time I saw them. I didn't catch any of the song titles I'm afraid, but they really whipped up the crowd with their "emo-metal" as they call it. They didn't really remind me of anyone straight away, the Get Up Kids but loads heavier maybe, and maybe Papa Roach but different, more intense yet somehow more laid back too. Their singer wasn't the most technically brilliant vocalist I've ever heard but was certainly passionate, with guts to match his beard, and a great dancer. The guitarist was good, with ballsy backing vocals and some inventive guitar work which occasionally sounded a little Korn-inspired. The bass player looked more the part than last time I saw them, when he just kind of stood there. He now looks more confident and his playing seems to benefit from this, even if he wears his bass in a wierd way. And the long-haired drummer occasionally stutters with his rhythms but rocks hard behind his kit. Each song demanded listening to, and although some seemed a little samey, the song which they invited a star-struck girl to sing on stage was brilliant and catchy, and is a potential hit. They completed their set with a version of Bon Jovi's hit Living on a Prayer, which could have so easily been a mistake but actually fitted in really well with the rest of their set. The Nu-Metal version really worked. The crowd (which is one of the biggest i've ever seen in Joesph's Well) really got into them, and the assembled throng of punks, rockers and metallers loved their tunes and great stage prescence. Catylyst then took to the stage, to a similar if not bigger crowd and a cheer. A dancey-techno intro didn't bode well as far as I was concerned but then when the song kicked in it seemed to fit perfectly. Dressed in black, the three-piece created a massive sound and brilliant stage presence, even though their bass player apparently left a couple of weeks ago, the singer said from the stage. The crowd went wild when the first song did kick in after the dancey intro, and I didn't think they'd be able to keep up the quality of music, stage presence and playing for a whole set but they did. Each song was full of twists and turns, like for instance an early Metallica song might have, but, unlike Metallica, Catylyst had massive catchy choruses and hooks which really drilled into your head and stayed there. They played a song for which the singer stopped playing guitar as well and that seemed to go wrong but that was the only foot they put wrong, and they quickly got it back together. The spiky-haired drummer was easily the best drummer I have ever seen in an unsigned band and better than most signed drummers. The sideburned singer/guitarist had an excellent distinctive voice halfway between Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke but managing to sound nothing like anyone else, and the shiny-shirted guitarist had a great stage presence and good harmonies. The songs were rocking in a Foo Fighters type way but more intense and interesting, but way more diverse than the Foos, with dance bits, metal bits, pop bits, industrial bits and even ska bits. Finishing with a cover of Dead or Alive's 80's hit You Spin Me Round Like a Record (dedicated by the consistently amusing singer to anyone born in the 1980s), Catylyst managed to get the entire crowd on their side, even though most people seemed to have turned up to see D-Rail. With a little work, Catylyst could really do some damage to the national music scene. Phluid kicked off with a Green Day type opener to the room which had almost emptied now after the triumphant sets by the first two bands. It was a great opening song, but the singer didn't have much luck with a mike lead that fell out. They didn't seem too bothered about impressing the crowd, and before one song the drummer sarcastically dedicated it to "ugly spotty kids in shorts which are too big for them", in a reference to some of the crowd that watched D-Rail and Catylyst then went when Phluid came on. I felt that this was disrespectful, both to the fans and to the other two bands. However, Phluid impressed with a set of poppy glam material, a bit Three Colours Red at times, a bit Nirvana at other times. Obviously quite well rehearsed, they had a set of catchy bouncy songs which were good in a fairly unoriginal way. The singer was emphasising the androgynous thing which is quite popular at the moment with bands like Rachel Stamp and Placebo doing well (they even had a song called Am I A Boy?), but occasionally wavered on the higher notes, but was complimented by good backing vocalists, particularly the drummer. The two guitarists looked good on stage, swaggering and playing well, and the bass player and drummer kept really solid time (the bass player also dwarfed everyone on the stage!). Phluid need to work on some of the songs, but probably had the best and most obvious image of the three bands. Occasionaly this made them seemed contrived, and into image over music, but could capitalise on the current rise in glam/sleaze rock type scene with some work. Finishing the night with their best song, a thunderous rocking song which reminded me of a happier Nirvana, they rocked but seemed slightly pissed off that everyone had gone to the bar whilst they were on. Maybe if they weren't so up theirselves about this fact, they might have been more enjoyable, and drawn more people from the bar down to see them.