Posts Tagged ‘Star Inn’

Pascagoula, This Is Wreckage, Space Church, Grits, Star Inn, Guildford, Sunday 19th November 2017

November 26, 2017

First up, Grits. I can’t help but have some reservations. I find it hard to buy into what they’re doing 100%, there’s something about them that makes me doubt their motives and remain a little unconvinced by them.

Flip side is that I feel that is harsh, even as I type it. Three great musicians, some really decent songs, and a furious energy that reminds me of the chaos of rock n roll at it’s best… I’m talking early 70s, Raw Power era Stooges, proto-punk, that properly fucked up all over the place rock n roll from when rock n roll was still at the cutting edge and punk had yet to seize the mantle.

They are getting better, and they’re also taking more of a stoner influence which is no bad thing… but then maybe I’m back to paragraph one, is this stoner influence a natural progression of the band, or is this an attempt to capture a part of what is kinda en vogue at the moment?  I am all for bands progressing, just I hope it’s natural and I hope it’s not an attempt to find a market.

I’m being so harsh, they’re a fine fine band, great energy, I’d happily go see them any day of the week.

Up next was Space Church. I’m back on an upward curve with them.  I loved the noise and the madness in the variety when I first saw them… to what extent did they mellow and to what extent did I just get my head around them so I wasn’t so mind-blown?  Either way I think they’re getting better, though I’ll never get that “first time” feeling again.

Phil’s a brave performer bringing a bizarre take on theatre to the party, I appreciate anything that puts a smile on my face and is wilfully different. Why has no-one else thought of forming an easy listening-influenced, performance art-influenced, Slinty-Albini-y thing like Space Church? It’s such an obvious thing to do.

Pat and Dan hold it all together… the bass kinda always adding something at all points in the set, the drums more ticking along in between the real highs.  Really good band.  Fucking good.

This Is Wreckage.  I’m a total hypocrite… or am I?  I like stuff to be reasonably original.  I don’t like old fashioned punk bands – or most modern ones for that matter.  It’s old hat, and it takes a bit of a spin and a real energy (see Freakouts locally) to make it good.  This Is Wreckage are kinda the noise-rock equivalent.  I think.  I don’t know enough about all the [late 80s, early 90s maybe, US] influences to know how much they’re bringing to the table that hasn’t been done before.  Why don’t I reject it as old hat?

But… noise rock is just more interesting than punk, it sounds better, it doesn’t have quite as many miles on the clock, and it has not been done to death in a mainstream way and become part of a fairly conservative consensus like punk has.

And even if it hadn’t, This Is Wreckage just nail it.  Drums get hammered, absolutely hammered.  Bass get’s abuse at high speed.  Guitars fizz and vocals shout.  Go see them.  Put them on.

Check ’em out here – awesome – buy it –

https://thisiswreckage.bandcamp.com/album/q-y-c

Onto Pascagoula.  They’re not that similar a band but they did kinda remind me of Wytch Pycknyk [are both bands from Brighton?  Wytch Pycknyk played the Star recently] in the level of chaos and genuinely fuck-up energy.  If you could combine Grits professionalism with the sense of danger and fucked-up mess from Pascagoula you’d have an awesome awesome awesome beast of a band.

Pascagoula reckon they’re sludge doom metal drone or summat, judging by their bandcamp.  Not sure they sounded as heavy or dark as what I checked out online before the gig.  They’re a bit all-over-the-place, and that’s no bad thing, enjoyed them, definitely the band I’d like to see again.

It’s almost getting embarrassing… the Buffalo Club guys, literally, genuinely, do not put on bad bands, and I am literally, genuinely not sleeping with any of them, that is the truth.

Advertisements

This Is Wreckage – QYC – Star Inn Sunday 19th November 2017

November 17, 2017

A whilst back the Buffalo Club put on Welsh Noise-Rock act This Is Wreckage.  I thought they were the best band of the night, and they were up against Porch from the US and Buzz Rodeo from Germany, neither of whom are slouches, and local legends Space Church.

They’re back on the Sunday 19th November, Buffalo Club at the Star Inn, Guildford.  Go fucking check ’em out.

It’s been out a while now, but finally I get round to reviewing the album… not long after release…. ahem… only I don’t too busy, too much other shit to do, and someone else said just what I’d want to a more eloquently…

From their US label’s Bandcamp page –

From the U.K. comes THIS IS WRECKAGE. Heavy does not describe the sound these guys are laying down. Bass and drums are the driving force here, while the spikey guitar and savage vocals weave in and out of the abyss. It’s like an all night drinking binge with the reanimated corpse of Bon Scott. This is the one that gets stuck in your CD player for a month. It truly rocks in the vein of early Touch and Go acts. Released on compact disc exclusively by Forbidden Place Records, This album is Fucking essential. Limited to 100 copies.

Check it here, and check ’em on the 19th

https://thisiswreckage.bandcamp.com/album/q-y-c

The Baby Seals, Moper, Swords of Thought – Star Inn – Tuesday 24th October 2017- Guildford

October 26, 2017

I didn’t get Jasta 11 at first.  I like to know where something / someone is coming from, and I couldn’t really see past Jasta 11 being pretty random and pretty hit or miss.  Then I basically realised it wasn’t that complicated… it’s kind of an old school, open-minded indie mindset – my background really – whereby guitar pop, punk, a bit of rock maybe, is the staple, whilst slightly noisier or dancier or more experimental stuff sometimes gets on the bill.

There’s plenty of stuff they put on that doesn’t overly interest me (I can’t like everything, I can’t go to every gig), but I love them because –

(1)  They put on lots of gigs
(2)  They try to get people out to gigs – their own and others
(3)  They put on some great local bands
(4)  They put on more touring bands than probably any other local promoter (in-house promoters maybe excluded)
(5)  They seem to make a particular effort to put on female bands which is a VERY GOOD THING (Nova Twins deserve a special mention for being fabulous).  [Wild Eye daydreams silently…. mmm… Skinny Girl Diet are a really great band, it’d be great if some local promoter were to book them… pretty sure they’re based reasonably close in the scheme of things.  Or the Tuts maybe.  mmmm… be good to see them again…]

Follow them – https://www.facebook.com/jasta11gigs/

I really liked Swords of Thought when I first saw them… less so last time out.  Tonight though they were back to their best thanks to a second new bassist in quick succession who’ll hopefully last a lot longer than the last.  I think there were at least a couple of new songs alongside older favourites… I really like their energetic, noisy, poppy, 90s, American-sounding indie-rock thing.

[Have you checked out my A-Z pages which are accessed via the top right (ish) of the page… most local bands that are decent, half decent or interesting / heavy are listed with links galore… let me know what I’ve missed, links, bands, promoters, venues etc etc.]

Moper rock… dunno, maybe I preferred ’em a touch more last time I saw them, but they always seem to play a slightly different set in a slightly different way, keeps it interesting… but fuck me, WHAT A BAND basically. Two things, a huge percentage of top bands are actually pretty funky when they put their mind to it.  They have that swing, they have that funk.  Tuskar do, I think, somewhere in their brutal sludge-doomnation.  So do Moper.

Hip-Hop.  Johnny had his Wu Tang T-Shirt on, he said something about hip-hop I think… kinda sarcastic, but you know what he’s onto something… Moper are a rung or two above the masses because there is a lot more to the music than you might assume if you simply took the quiet misery and the noisy aggression (combined with more fucking misery) at face value.  Come to think of it that was probably the schoolboy error I made the first time I saw them.  Idiot.

The Baby Seals were on last.  I’m gonna do the complete reverse of what I normally do. I normally try to make an absolute point of not mentioning when there are women in a band – it doesn’t matter.  But this is about them and female bands more generally.  Here goes.

All-female, guitar bass drums three piece.

The music was rudimentary indie/garage/rocknroll.  When Billy Childish makes such music I worship at his feet.  When most other people do it I say “nice enough, but give me something more interesting or heavier or newer”.

If you’re not going to be as good as Billy Childish then you’d better do something different.  It is no shame not being Billy Childish… not many people can claim to have written books, published poetry, had their art exhibited at the ICA and knocked out 100-plus albums in their career.  Top top musician and artist.  I digress.

Depressingly, in 2000 and fucking 17, being an all-female band IS doing something different.  I’d find it much harder to enjoy an all-male band playing the same set.  Is this my prejudice?  Is it my reverse-prejudice?  Or is it that however much the music might be on the face of it the same, there tends to be an intrinsic difference between the way men and women approach the instruments, and if you’re tired of what you normally hear (a male approach) then a female approach is going to sound a bit different even if you can’t put your finger on why.

I think it’s maybe a bit of all of them, but quite a lot of the latter.  AND you obviously have the lyrical content which in Baby Seals case means songs explicitly about a female experience and explicitly for a female audience.

I really enjoyed the set.

For the band’s sake it’s a real shame that there weren’t more women in the audience.

Really good night.

Princess, Camcorder, Big Gruesome, Bent Ref and Silent Mode at the Star Inn, Guildford 10th September 2017

September 17, 2017

I’m gonna go random and try to write quick.

Bent Ref were great. Absolutely no idea about what to say about them other than the guitarist had a nice guitar, practically no pedals and the sort of tone that screams “I know what the fuck I’m doing. Worship at my feet mere mortal”. The only band they reminded me of was Sebadoh, but (1) I am not an expert on Sebadoh, and (2) I think they only remind me of Sebadoh because Bent Ref sound a bit like a band that could have been around back then and I think both bands share a kinda song-based but quirky enough that it’s hard to pin down thing. Superb technicians, interesting artists, I like.

Silent Mode rock and I love that their sound is somewhat modern without being somewhat shit (there’s a lot of bands around now that don’t seem to give a shit about their tone, or they want a tone that will alienate people like me who grew up with all sorts of really warm / retro / analogue / valve / sounds). Definitely prefer them at their rockiest / hardest / fastest; they sound a bit like they’re undecided whether they should focus on the heavier, or whether they have enough in the locker in terms of song-writing and talent to be crossover-desert. I don’t have a problem if they stay where they are or go in either direction.

Big Gruesome. Loved the Trematron. Their Facebook page lists the following influences “Black Sabbath, Metallica, Van Halen, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Deftones, Bloc Party, Letlive, AC/DC, Funeral For A Friend, The Cult, Pearl Jam, Motorhead, Led Zeppelin, The Stooges”. NOT MY THING – aside from FFAF and Deftones and Bloc Party and Letlive (bands I know fuck all about and have no desire to learn) you have the sort of tedious mainstram rock shit that is unacceptable as an influence – Lep Zep, Doors, Floyd, Metallica, AC/DC, Cult, Pearl Jam. Plenty of people love this kinda thing. NOT ME. SUE ME.

Princess. Oh Princess. My first gig with new, reasonably good quality ear-plugs… sounded so much more refined that I am used to from them, but what I lost in edge I gained in clarity. The consensus is they’re improving… nothing to blow my mind (not every band can be Who Saw The Light) but their 80s-influenced noise rock hits some lofty heights and never disappoints.

Camcorder are like Princess in that I’ve previously kinda thought it’s the abrasiveness that is the greatest selling point, but I might be coming round to the idea that it’s not. I’ve long wanted to see Camcorder in the quieter and more refined sonic space that is the Boileroom… but I think aforementioned ear-plugs had the same effect.

The Lemonheads were a great band. I’m a sucker for the poppier end of what they did (Mrs Robinson), and especially the rockier stuff (Lick is a proper album). Camcorder are a bit like Bent Ref in that I can’t pin them down but do like it… but if anything Camcorder remind me of what Lemonheads could have been had they dropped the rock influences and gone straight to the pop whilst making sure the guitar fails to sound poppy. This is probably utter horseshit as a description, but I know what I mean. Either way I kinda get the feeling I’m listening to a really poppy but noisy American early-90s grunge-influence indie-pop band. I’m not sure how poppy the songs really are, they all just flash past in the blink of an eye leaving me with a feeling of “I’m not sure what that song was like, but it felt like it was over in an instant so I can safely say it didn’t bore me”. I am shit at this reviewing thing.

Special props to Nick Holland who get’s my “closest thing we had to the promoter turning up” award for the night.  Not a great crowd but not a bad one either, pretty good for a Sunday night in fact. Cheers Stef (allegedly).

The scene is fucking healthy, apart from a few more people through the door would be nice. Four really decent bands for a sum total of fuck all, plus Big Gruesome who I am simply not in a position to judge – I don’t do hard rock.

Who Saw The Light, Tuskar, Daisy Chain – Star Inn 12th September 2017

September 15, 2017

Someone said to me this “if you review a gig you should review all the bands”. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. For (1) I am Wild Eye, this is my blog and I can do what I want, whether that is telling people to go check out Jon White’s amazing youtube channel for awesome live heaviness [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxKMvHJPcHmp0Z3ncOw6Nsg] or ignoring bands for whatever reason I like.  For (2) I have got absolutely nothing to say about some bands other than “not my thing” or writing an essay on why I think “straight” rock / hard rock was killed off by grunge and had literally no relevance in 1990 let alone a modicum of relevance 27 years later.

To expand a little further, my opinion on such bands is somewhere between believing that they are not really my thing but have some merit as musicians, albeit merit I struggle to appreciate, and believing that their conservative nature is a despicable sonic representation of the politics killing this country. On balance I favour the latter argument. If you sing “I love the past and I hate progress, I want to go back in time 50 years to when I could offend minorities with impunity and discriminate against them willy-nilly” then you are a fucking arsehole. If your music shouts in massive fucking capital letters “I love the past and I hate progress” then I have to be suspicious about your politics, sorry. And mainstream rock / hard rock is just fucking shit of course. It has never been part of my life and never will be.

On first Daisy Chain.  New band to me, and someone told me it was their first gig.  If so, serious hats off.  Pretty impeccable list of influences on their facebook page – Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Mudhoney, Hawkwind, Sex Pistols.  Basically they’re a fuzzy grungey rock band who are fairly traditional, but have enough of an edge to keep someone like me interested. Awesome fuzz tones, vocals which owe something to shoegaze. A lot of the newer, younger bands I find myself loving now are heavy-as, whereas Daisy Chain are much less so, though that fuzz tone is pretty heavy (by 1970s standards maybe) and f-ing awesome. If I was a wanker I might say FFO Dinosaur Jr. They sound a bit Freak.

I love the retro guitar tones, I love that they are heavy and a bit psychedelic whilst resisting the urge to go all-in in either direction (or both)… but then again could they be even more interesting if they did veer off towards insanity or genuinely, overwhelming heaviness? Who the fuck knows but I look forward to finding out.

Loxdown are “not my thing”. Sue me. Please don’t sue me.

Tuskar. Hard rocking sludge two-piece. Love the occasional Mastodonny atmospherics. So, what makes a great pop band? Great songs and a beat you can dance to! What makes a great sludge band? Great riffs and a beat that fucking rocks! Tyler’s drums are as heavy and aggressive as you could wish for, but I think it might be a hint of  genuine funk in there too that makes them special. Tom’s riffs fucking rock, his guitar sound is heavy and full, another fucking EHX POG I presume. I want a POG and a HOG and in fact I actually WANT ALL OF THE FUCKING PEDALS.

They play a few songs off Arianrhod – the ep that I managed to get an early copy of before their signing to Riff Rock who will be re-releasing it soon. It is a serious ep. Buy it when it comes out. I can’t speak for the room, but I can speak of my experience in it. So easy to lose yourself in a maelstrom of fuzz and battering drums, so much energy in the thrashier bits. The room went mental and I’m guessing this was kinda an appreciation thing.

I’m honestly not envious of any band that has to follow Tuskar. Who Saw The Light get away with it with ease, they almost match the heaviness of Tuskar, and they out-weird them by miles. Tuskar are the band you can be sure will carry you across the ocean; Who Saw The Light are gonna shove you in a rocket-ship and you have no idea whether you’re gonna reach the stars or you’re gonna explode on launch… fuck they might even set the controls for the heart of the sun. Man. Fucking hippies. Hippy punk metaller freaks I meant. But either way, even if you die on the fucking launchpad, you’ll be happy. Or something. Does this metaphor work?

Where was I?

They start with Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues again. They end with Bangerz if memory serves. Fuck knows what they play in the middle, probably a few off their Psychedelic Philosophy EP. I’m not sure the extent to which they are getting tighter as a band or more focussed in their ideas – maybe quite a lot but maybe not at all. I do know that the more I see them the less random they appear, though the genre-defying madness is still there.  Is this more to do with me getting used to them or are they changing / progressing?  No idea, but I do know they have the riffs and the craziness to get a crowd going, whilst someone pit-averse like me can stand to the side and just grin for 30 minutes at the life-affirming show they put on.  Seriously, I’d expect a band to have really catchy poppy songs, with humour in the lyrics, to make me grin like this. And they’re political. Explicitly and implicity.

Fuck they’re good.

Pretty full room a first band on that went down well and the two main acts managed to absolutely destroy the back room of a pub in fucking Guildford on a fucking Tuesday night. Chapeau.

Freakouts and Screech Bats, Punk / Rock BBQ 3rd September 2017

September 4, 2017

Very quick few words… Jasta 11… all-dayer, punk BBQ with no BBQ!  I don’t care, bar food good as always at the Star.

I am not going to review all the bands, but a few words…

I love Freakouts.  I love their sheer, unadulterated energy, especially in ‘Fuck all’ the last song of the set.  I love the sense of danger and chaos.  I love their take on punk which is massively grunge-influenced.  I love Charlie’s vocal style which set’s them apart.  At the risk of doing myself (and others) a massive disservice they deserve a bigger, better, sweatier, younger, angrier audience.  The guitarist was a stand-in and did fine… maybe even looked and sounded a little more suited to the band than their usual guitarist does.

Screech Bats did it for me too… I love the sheer joy on the drummers face; the properly fuck-off attitude and stage presence of the guitarist; the energy (albeit they’re much more of a ‘straight’ band than Freakouts and gave me less of a sense of energy).  I loved the contradictions in the singer’s look – quite conventional looking clothes / hair, only fairly heavily tattooed – I liked her hand gestures and physical expressions which were much less obvious and hackneyed than most front-people employ.

Gigs in Guildford / SW Surrey and NE Hants September 1st 2017 onwards

September 1, 2017

This gig list is stuff that get’s the Wild Eye seal of approval, especially if the band or promoter are in bold.

If you look to your right you should see a page marked “Gig Listings on the Net A to Z” where I have linked a couple of local Facebook listings pages.  There will be further A to Z pages up soon covering local bands, labels, promoters and venues.

Let me know what I am missing.

Oh yeah… always worth checking out the Boileroom website as well.

Tuesday 19th September 2017
Joy Room, Fuzzwalker, Warp Rays at the Boileroom, Guildford
https://www.facebook.com/events/433234143725578/

Saturday 30th September
Lo!, Thuum, I Saw The World Burn, Negative Thought Process, Praecantator at The Sanctuary, Basingstoke
https://www.facebook.com/events/477385599292291/

Sunday 1st October 2017
Thuum, Wytch Pycknyck, Slug13, Newts live at The Star Inn, Guildford [Leafy Incline Promotions]
https://www.facebook.com/events/1839197016332731/

Friday 6th October 2017
Trevor’s Head, Morass of Molasses, Heinous Pianist, Silent Mode at the Swamp at the Facebar.
https://www.facebook.com/events/164401130779858/

Saturday 7th October 2017
False Advertising, Silent Mode at The Sanctuary, Basingstoke
http://www.bandsintown.com/event/15119244

Friday 13th October 2017
Crisis, Deadcuts, Holy Faction at the Holroyd Arms, Guildford
https://www.facebook.com/events/449174145438567/

Saturday 14th October 2017
The Grudge, Heinous Pianist and Stone Soup at the Lounge Bar in Alton
https://www.facebook.com/events/782076291974860/

Tuesday 24th October 2017
Baby Seals, Moper and Swords of Thought at at The Star Inn, Guildford
https://www.facebook.com/events/1750740838558322/

Wednesday 1st November 2017
Syd Arthur and Vinyl Staircase at the Boileroom, Guildford.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1900143626975066/

Friday 3rd November 2017
Valerian Swing, Dialects, The Glowing Juniper and Cody Noon at The Sanctuary, Basingstoke
https://www.facebook.com/SanctuaryLiveUK/

Friday 3rd November 2017
Silverchild, Morass of Molasses, Stone Soup at the Facebar in Reading (The Swamp)
https://www.facebook.com/events/1375695992528398/

Sunday 19th November 2017
This Is Wreckage, Space Church more TBC at the Star Inn, Guildford (Buffalo Club night)
https://www.facebook.com/events/1644920612216088/

Friday 1st December 2017
Tuskar, Morass of Molasses, Slug13, The Grey (TBC) at the Facebar in Reading (The Swamp)
https://www.facebook.com/events/316946622109714/

Sunday 4th February 2018
Line-up TBC [Leafy Incline Promotions]
https://www.facebook.com/events/1965125827096664/

Past Events –

Friday 1st September 2017
Still Wave, Parachute For Gordo, Analogue Device at The Sanctuary, Basingstoke
https://www.facebook.com/events/1964523520502717/

Friday 1st September 2017
Bloodhoney, Naked Aces, Camcorder at The Rowbarge, Guildford
https://www.facebook.com/events/315773242216231/

Sunday 3rd September 2017
Punk Rock BBQ at the Star Inn, Guildford – All dayer
Spoilers, Screech Bats, Captain Trips, Emergency Bitter, Kilter, The Landings, Freakouts
https://www.facebook.com/events/323545878074179/

Monday 4th September
Train Robbers, Luna, Lupus, Stu Brootal at Komo in Guildford (UpSet)  Hip-hop / rap / etc
https://www.facebook.com/events/114926529210171/

Thursday 7th September 2017
Freakouts, Spit, Xero, Revelry and Hydrocele at the Boileroom in Guildford
https://www.facebook.com/events/1446526652049559/

Saturday 09 September 2017
Febueder, Ash The Author, Catgod, Figures of Speech, Cody Noon, Vienna Ditto at Oakford Social Club in Reading
http://www.songkick.com/concerts/30997889-febueder-at-oakford-social-club

Sunday 10th September 2017
Princess, Camcorder, Big Gruesome, Bent Ref and Silent Mode at the Star Inn, Guildford [Trial n Buffalo pt 2] – FREE
https://www.facebook.com/events/1599945420039344/
https://www.facebook.com/Trial-N-Error-Productions-1511711255801880/

Tuesday 12th September 2017
Who Saw The Light, Tuskar, Loxdown (?!?!), Daisy Chain at the Star Inn, Guildford – should be a very good one.
https://www.facebook.com/events/114455422598504/

Friday 15th September 2017
Atlantic Fire, Fainites, Andy Ruddy, Dead State and Soeur at the Boileroom, Guildford
https://www.facebook.com/events/325039217919761/

Moper, Dead State, I Plead Irony, Daryl Vorderman at the Star Inn, Guildford Friday 18th August 2017

August 28, 2017

I didn’t get round to reviewing this one before… and I ain’t now, but I’ll say a few words.

I had a real nice vibe going all night, probably down to seeing the Forward 4 Wiz Trust sign and thinking about the guy I did not know who wrote some of the best lyrics I have ever heard.  MC4 were a superb band, but Wiz’s lyrics were the one thing that from my perspective were genuinely great about them.  I do not use that word lightly.  Off the top of my head I cannot think of a better lyricist, anywhere, ever.  Only the good die young indeed you sod.  You have no idea how much I would love to be able to see you up on stage now.

Pride and Prejudice is one of the most beautiful songs out there IMO.  I’m in tears just re-reading those lyrics now.

If you read this blog you know I like boxes.  I love it when a band just headfucks me, throws it all in, noisily, confuses the hell out of me.  Who Saw The Light are the best example recently but the first couple of times I saw the mighty Space Church were similar.  But even when this is happening I’m always trying to pin bands down to a style or genre.

Dead StateI Plead Irony, and Daryl Vorderman are all probably independent, alternative punky rock or something… but they’re the non-weird, more song-based and less experimental end of that… I tend to prefer the weirder noisier end, unless the band in question really does blow me away with magnificent songs… and writing magnificent songs is kinda the really tricky bit in all this (well that and playing guitar, hitting things in time and singing, they’re all damn-near impossible as well).  Enjoyed ’em all, but Daryl Vorderman definitely have something and Dead State definitely have a decent front man.

Moper are a fucking let down.  I say “a fucking let down”, but I kinda meant to say, a fucking let down apart from –

The guitar – the sound, the stripped back simplicity, the beauty, the way there is not a single unnecessary note all night.

Voice – I really love Johnny’s voice, some people might say it’s authentic.  That’s a bullshit expression, but it is deeply convincing.

The way the drums and bass work perfectly to compliment the above.

The songs.

But apart from that, pretty average.  Go check out their records.

Forward 4 Wiz Trust on Facebook

Cody Noon, For Astronauts and Satellites, Aching Muscle and Sleepwalker at the Star Inn, Guildford 27th August 2017

August 28, 2017

Trial ‘n’ Error join forces once more with the Buffalo Club for a night that could best be described as experimental and eclectic.  Four acts with arguably next-to-nothing in common, certainly not superficially, other than three do not feature live drums and if you were to turn up for some rock, punk, indie then you’d be left disappointed.

Sometimes I go to gigs and just don’t much get into it, for no real reason I can put my finger on… other times I just get into it from start to finish and even when it’s not 100% my thing.

Up first, Sleepwalker.  Stef takes off his promoter’s hat and puts on one that I’d mark ambient minimal techno.  He stands in front of the stage and twiddles knobs on the assortment of kit – mixer, laptop, keyboard and some other shit – in front of him.  I missed the start of the set, but really loved what I did catch, which I think was most of it.  Of all the electronica / dance music out there this is pretty damn close to what I like most.  Quite a pure, warm sound.  Simple, funky, energetic… with ambient sweeps.  To my mind this is dance music for a bar / club that is equally effective as head music.  Really takes me back to 1997 / 98 when I was hanging out in little bars in central London on a Friday night, necking lagers and listening to electro-influenced tech-house.  Honestly, I have no criticism other than the Back Room of the Star is not the ideal setting.

Next up, Richard Fenning’s in his Aching Muscle guise.  An eclectic mix of electronic backing tracks, overlayed with live and looped guitar.  By turns fun, heavy, playful, funky, futuristic, lounge, rocking.  The playing can be relatively orthodox, but when it is it usually gives off a sense that it is being played exactly as intended – technically perfect.  Then he veers off in off-key, off-kilter, off-the-wall, off-ensive (not really), jazzy, mathy, experimentally directions that can sound quite random but I’m sure are just as precisely crafted as that which is more orthodox.

I’ve kinda got two criticisms.  A full live band can put out more power and volume, and, of course, gives you more to look at (not that Fennings doesn’t know how to work a stage).  The sound at the Star is really good – loud and faithful – but it’d be interesting to see how different, louder and more all-encompassing and powerful Aching Muscle would sound as a full band.  Failing that, in an ideal world, and this is asking a lot, he’d turn up with three half-stacks and route loops through one, drums and bass another and live guitar a third.  PA’s are fucking great but they compliment a back-line and can never truly replace one.

The second is this.  Music is never just about the music; to really love it you have to have a complete package to buy into.  Fenning’s other band – Pensevor, where he drums – are a perfect example.  They look like a proper band, down in no small part to their man-mountain front-man but not exclusively, and they have a sound that has nods to all sorts of things but is resolutely their own.  Get on stage by yourself and it’s a fuck-load harder to come across like a proper band, partly because you’re not, of course.  Nothing wrong with a solo act, nothing at all, but it’s just so much harder to come across like you’re on your way to a big stage, and so much easier to come across like you’ve just been let loose from your bedroom.  It’s about perception as much as reality, but it’s just harder to make it sound big and authentic (don’t get me started on authenticity in music, but just quickly, authenticity is bullshit, but people’s perception of it makes a massive difference to how a band is received.)

Third up For Astronauts and Satellites… pretty sure I’ve seen them before, but if I did I didn’t much enjoy them and don’t much remember them.  Dunno what was different this time – probably my attitude not them – but I really enjoyed it.  Shoegaze-influenced post-rock, combining electronics with two guitars; it was the drums that really did it for me.  Bugger.  I noodle at home with a sequencer, but yet another band proves exactly why a relatively traditional live band is so powerful, even 50 years or so since the first all-electronic acts, and despite the fact that so much of the last 30 or 40 years the more cutting-edge music relies increasingly on techniques other than live performance.

Really funky guitar noise.

Finally Cody Noon.  Kinda the missing link between Sleepwalker and For Astronauts, again funky, minimal programmed drums, again guitars, and the only live bass of the night.  Technically I am far from convinced by Cody Noon’s talent, none of Aching Muscle’s effortlessness… but for (1) I’m probably selling them short, and for (2) I really do not give a fuck.  If talent in and music out bore any real direct correlation then Eric Fucking Clapton would make music that could be described as “listenable” or “not horrific” or “unlikely to invoke murderous thoughts in the listener”.  I can’t really describe them… beer blamed, or maybe it’s just cos there’s absolutely nothing to what they do… repetitive, simple… but I really liked it and maybe even my favourites of the night.  In fact, not maybe, they definitely were.  Anything that drones is fine by me, but much more so when it is the drone of repetition as opposed to the drone of a continuous note.

Really looking forward to checking out recorded music from all of them, not least the three whose CDs I walked out with.  Keep and eye, I might even write about them in the next few weeks.  Expect me to come away with completely different perceptions from those I took away last night.

https://codynoon.bandcamp.com/

https://forastronauts.bandcamp.com/

https://soundcloud.com/aching-muscle

https://www.facebook.com/The-Sleepwalker-1700078336900454/

https://www.facebook.com/thebuffaloclub/

https://www.facebook.com/Trial-N-Error-Productions-1511711255801880/

Blind River, Princess, Noisepicker, Lost You To The Cities at the Star Inn, Guildford – 3rd August 2017

August 6, 2017

Lost You To The Cities… seen ’em before, really pleasant in a late Sonic Youth way, sorta, but nowhere near as good (unsurprising given Sonic Youth equals GOD).  Pretty, instrumental… really easy on the ear, but can they add some je ne sais quoi?

Noisepicker rock. Great voice, muddy guitar sound, nice, heavy riffy shit.

Princess are losing the trebly abrasiveness that I kinda thought was them… more universal sound now, love the post-punk bass, great drums… I like… they’re gonna get more fans like this… but for me was their wilful sonic evilness their main USP?  Dunno, but fuck it, Wild Eye likes bands that say fuck you to their audience and Princess are saying that less loudly nowadays.

Blind River. Great voice (Noisepicker singer). Sorry, I don’t do hard rock. Review over.

Next Trial n Error night is the 27th August at the Star.