Nova Twins, IDKFA, Moper – Jasta 11 Promotion at the Star Inn Guildford 25th February 2017

First on, Moper.  The first time I saw them, under their old moniker, I wasn’t overly impressed.  “Overall interesting, not bad, lots of potential… but not my thing right now.  I’d be more than happy to turn up at a gig and find out they were on the bill, but I wouldn’t go far out of my way specifically to see them” was what I said.  Since then I have made an effort to listen to them online, grown to like them and bought their records.  I judge the bands I see by pretty high standards, but I do try to like local bands, try to give them a chance, give myself every opportunity to grow to like a band so I can go and enjoy gigs locally.  Fucking glad I did with this mob, and it was hardly a chore.

They describe themselves as “abrasive and noisy post-hardcore”*.  Yet again my [lack of] knowledge of the multitude of genres and sub-genres over the last 25-30 years lets me down… but I think I can say for sure that Steve Albini and Shellac are influences.  Drums vary between rocking fairly hard, and, perhaps more often, odd time signatures.  Add some really nice bass and a Johnny’s guitar / vox and that’s them.

Johnny has a really nice voice that suits the music.  The guitars can be noisy, abrasive, scratchy and nasty, but more often than not stripped-back and beautiful is as appropriate a description.  Very few bands I have ever seen have taken the volume right down and have had the audience in near-as-damnit-silence… in fact I can only think of one off the top of my head… and the band that managed it (more than once in various times I saw them) were a semi-acousitic / cello / percussion three piece who played their entire set pretty quietly, and had fewer people in the room than Moper did.  And the band leader can boast a major-label solo deal and at least one ToTP appearance as a member of a band on his CV.

It’s hard for me to really judge how good they are – I just don’t know the competition well enough.  But I really like the balance they get between abrasion and beauty… and I have a feeling it’s their balance relatively in favour of beauty, in contrast to most bands doing a similar thing who favour noise, that makes me like them.

Go buy the wonderfully titled new album, “An Altar of Nothing, Erected for No-one”.  I did, and I have NO REGRETS.

I think Moper think they’re depressing, but for me there was only one band on the bill that made me sad.  They came on second.  I am opinionated and capable of making very quick decisions about whether a band is brilliant or not.

I liked the bassist’s MC4 T-shirt.

I like stuff that is relatively new, relatively different.  I have no issue with bands using sequencers, electronics, whatever, live… but dance music is VERY hard to do live.  And more than that, what’s the point?  The best dance music I have ever heard is drum and bass, techno, electro and tech-house.  The strengths it has are watered down by even the merest hint of live instrumentation.  It is meant to be pure and precise.

IDKFA are sort of a 90s rave band I think, probably with some more modern pop-dance / EDM influences too.  It is not my type of music on any level whatsoever.  If I wanted to listen to dance music I’d be in a dark basement club with a DJ, or I’d be at home sticking on Underground Resistance 12″s.  Sorry.

[There is a risk that as this review continues a certain inconsistency of thought will become apparent].

Finally Nova Twins.  Slightly odd that only 4 nights earlier, in the  same venue, I saw a similar-ish 3-piece set-up.  Drums, vocals, and a bassist doing most of the music… the only fundamental difference in set-up was Revelry’s singer just sings, Nova Twin’s singer (actually, vocalist is much more accurate) plays a bit of guitar as well (though not on every song).

To a large extent my criticism of IDKFA is their melange… I’d rather my dance stripped down, simpler, more pure of sound and ditch the live bass and drums cos they can only take away from the precision, they cannot possibly add anything.  Nova Twins are a wonderful melange.

I kinda thought they sounded like Red Hot Chilli Peppers was a starting point, and that they’ve basically taken the intersection of rock, pop and maybe metal, and then infused it with a bit of hip-hop, drum and bass, grime (which is basically drum and bass plus hip-hop, plus a bit else isn’t it?) whatever else.  “We don’t call ourselves rock or grime” they said to the NME.  No they’re both.

Amy’s vocals are great, and I think I’d argue her overall stage prescence is even better.  Georgia’s bass is doing so much and my mind would have been considerably more blown had I not seen someone else pull off something similar so recently, albeit to a much lower standard. Could maybe give her a bit of criticism for being a bit light on the sub-bass, but when that kicked in, wow, props to the sound system at the Star as well to be fair.

I do not like rock-dance crossover acts.  Nova Twins are and they aren’t.  There’s no mess, no crossover because it’s all so seemless.  I could see them pretty damn high up the bill at a big festival.

* [Typo inspired ‘joke’].  In what style did William Shakespeare’s successors write pretty intense and slightly alternative plays?  Post-bardcore.  Sorry.

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