Sunday, 11 November 2007

Too Many Gigs

The National/St. Vincent @ The Leadmill, Sheffield 3/11
Deerhunter/This Ain't Vegas/To My Bones/some other band @ Bar Saki, Manchester 7/11
Antelope/This Ain't Vegas/Heart/YEAH/Up! Periscope @ The Red House, Sheffield 8/11
The Yell/The Tigerpicks @ Razor Stiletto, Sheffield 10/11
Situationists/Just Ben @ The Harley, Sheffield 12/11

After a quick count it seems that in the space of nine days I've seen 14 bands; and of those 14, 2 were very good, 4 were good, 3 were passable, 2 were bad and 1 straight up sucked. I'm sure you're itching to know who's who, so let me tell you - The Tigerpicks were the worst. I might go as far as saying they were the worst band I've seen all year. Having been to Razor Stiletto before, I never go expecting to see anyone good play but usually bands get a good reception thanks to the "excited" (read: high) few in the crowd. However, when you're playing to a full venue and not even the non-sober people are clapping for you, you must be doing something wrong. And they were - it was a sort of Yeah Yeah Yeahs meets The Klaxons thing but without anything interesting. It spoke volumes that they'd just been signed to Sony. If there was ever a more obvious attempt at a label trying to find a marketable band and make some quick cash I'd be surprised. The Tigerpicks have everything that is so hot right now - 2 yelping girls, a laptop instead of a drummer, one guy on keyboard who's been given a trendy angular haircut, another guy on bass who's been told that he has to be the "New Rave" guy in the band so is wearing all white with a bit of neon and absolutely no songs, hooks or charisma. I fell like I should be meaner about this band but I simply can't - they're obviously going to go nowhere and get dropped faster than you can say "Jocasta" that it seems pointless. Having said that I dismissed The Pigeon Detectives as a mere Strokes copy and look where they are now. What can you do? Make fun of them on teh internets, that's what. And now onto the good bands.

For a band who released an album as good as "Alligator", putting out a follow up record must be a daunting task. Do you try and go for something bigger and bolder or do you try for something more understated? The National went for the latter, putting out "Boxer" earlier this year, a much more sedate affair compared to its predecessor. Obviously, as with any good live band, the quieter songs take on a much rawer edge live; basically The National are really good live. Their encore was a bit too long - they should have finished with "Mr November". Add to standing next to OB and Lee Hunter of Hollyoaks, I would say a good night all round. Lee Hunter seemed annoyed by the people talking in front of him. Someone tell heat magazine.

Bar Saki didn't play host to any minor soap stars but it did have Deerhunter there. Personally I would have enjoyed seeing someone from Coronation Street nodding out to the wall of sound coming from the stage area, but it was not to be. Instead, Deerhunter put in a fine performance and perfectly demonstrated why Cryptograms is one of the top 3 albums released this year. It would be a good point here to mention shoe gaze, since I believe it's making a comeback, MBV reunion and all. Deerhunter make use of the standard tools of reverb, delay and big walls of sound but add some subtle hi hats into the mix, providing a nice backbeat to the sheets of guitar noise. I don't really need to tel you this - you're reading a blog so chances are you own (or at least downloaded) Cryptograms.

Regular readers of this blog (as if there is such a thing) will no doubt notice the frequency with which I see heart/YEAH. Well I saw them again but this time they played some new songs. Their new stuff is a lot more poppy, one song in particular recalls Warren's pop punk roots with an added twist of Bruce Springsteen thrown in for good measure. The set opener, features some great guitar work from Jack. If they play your town, and by your town I mean Sheffield, I urge you to go and see them.

A special mention goes to Up! Periscope, who I've never seen before but they were very good. Quite like Hella or Don Caballero. Their stuff on myspace doesn't real do them full justice but I shall link anyway. Link.

So that's it for another week or so. I don't have any more gigs in my calender. Apart from My Bloody Valentine. Which is in June. Fucking june. Buying tickets in advance makes me feel uneasy.

If I form any more opinions on any more bands I shall write. Bye for now.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

You! Me! Fuzztival!

Hiem/Grammatics @ Fuzz Club, Sheffield 25/10
Fuzztival @ Fuzz Club, Sheffield 27/10
Rolo Tomassi, Actioner, Jonny Park @ The Casbah, 31/10

So you're probably thinking "What's a Fuzztival?" Well, it's a clever combination of Fuzz Club and a festival, hence Fuzztival. See what they've down there? Dead clever. Anyway, spending a whole day in Fuzz Club can get a bit much so it's best to pace yourself and maybe avoid the breadcakes. As for the bands, Situationists were good, Pete And The Pirates definitely played, You Say Party! We Say Die! suffered from the terrible Fuzz sound, Calf By Calf sounding almost exactly like Lightning Bolt which is no bad thing and then there was the headline bands, Los Campesinos! who may be one of the indie-est bands in existence at the moment. They name check K Records, Calvin Johnson, Ian Mackaye and Henry Rollins all in one song. They are twee as fuck. They even play an obscure Pavement song. And their drummer is shit. Does it get any more indie?

Prior to seeing LC! I'd had some reservations about them; the fact that they sound quite a lot like Broken Social Scene, the fact that they got signed after 14 gigs, and the whole twee, self referential nature of their lyrics. After seeing them, I conclude that, whilst they do sound a lot like BSS (not a bad thing) they're not just a carbon copy. Their set included nods to post-rock, a brief Sonic Youth style noise section and Pavement. Lots of Pavement. That they got signed after only 14 gigs does come through in their performance - had they had a bit more time to develop their sound they probably wouldn't be stuck with some of the dud songs that pepper their set and being so obvious in some of their lyrical references; naming your only ballad "Knee Deep At ATP" doesn't exactly scream subtlety. But what can you do? In this Web 2.0 age, LC! might be the perfect band - they're big on the internet, their songs are about other songs or bands, they all wear band t-shirts, they're actually pretty good, there seems to be at least a little sense of irony (maybe) - in fact, I may christen them "Blog-Rock", which is a new genre I have just invented. So watch out for that. It's almost as good as Puzzle Pop.

As for Hiem, a special thought should go out to them. They've been playing Fuzz Club ever year for the past 4 years, always playing the same songs, still dining out on "Chelsea" being NME Single Of The Week a couple of years, always sucking and seemingly never playing a gig any where else all year. But this year they came on to a Sigur Ros song. That's about it. I think they may be slightly fatter. Good work guys.

And a final word on Rolo Tomassi. For a group of 18 year olds they can play. Good costumes as well. I think the guitarist might have been dressed as one of Sunn o))). The Casbah was hosting the rock society's Halloween party and they seemed to freak out quite a few heavy metal types so that must be quite an achievement. If you take anything from this slightly crappy entry, it should be to go and see Rolo Tomassi. They're always on tour so it's not like you won't have the chance. Although if you don't like The Locust then you probably won't like them, so go see Los Campesinos!