Archive for the ‘Gig Review’ Category

Gig: Baths and Solar Bears

It basically couldn’t have been a bad gig. I mean, it was Baths and Solar Bears. On a personal level Cerulean was by a distance my favourite album of 2010 while She Was Coloured in took the honour of favourite Irish album of the year (how it evaded Choice Music Prize nomination I’ll never know). Dublin’s funky Workman’s Club was suitably busy for such an appetising line-up and on entry the danceable beats of Solar Bears were audible. An infectious case of head nod swept across those assembled appreciating the clean sound. A personal highlight was single Dolls which ended the Leinster duo’s unerring set.

And then came the main event, Will Wiesenfeld, aka Baths, made his understated entrance but couldn’t escape the onslaught of cheers and applause as the crowd refused to let him slip straight into the formalities. He was quite obviously taken aback by the reception. I had actually shared a few words with him during the Solar Bears set and he was as friendly and nice as his music is engaging. There’s always the fear that a solo electronic artist will not offer enough presence to entertain a big crowd but this certainly wasn’t the case last Friday. With Cerulean only accounting for about half of the set the new tunes kept the fans guessing while some nice touches to the established favourites added freshness to the set. Will himself immersed himself into the show hopping, bopping and singing like it was his last ever show. There was also just the right amount of crowd interaction and humour to tie the set together.

Sublime. If you don’t believe me, here’s proof…

Gig: The Ambience Affair & Windings

Thursday night saw the first gig of the Certain Three Tour featuring Windings, The Ambience Affair and We Cut Corners, come to Galway’s Rosin Dubh. Unfortunately I missed openers We Cut Corners, whom I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. In truth though it was the latter acts that had provided the real pull to the gig, the free admission didn’t hurt too. I last saw The Ambience Affair at 2008’s Hard Working Class Heroes. I remember being intrigued by the then two-piece who struggled to master their array of loop and effects pedals but had an appealing and distinct sound. Windings, for all the acclaim their 2010 album It’s Never Night got, were still something of an unturned stone, with just two songs on my iTunes.

The Ambience Affair, complete with new recruit, bassist Yvonne Ryan, were second on stage. The band may have an updated member list but  they haven’t deviated in terms of style and sound and are still making engaging and original tunes which are a celebration of layered guitar and vocals with frontman Jaime Clarke taking multi-tasking to a new level. Clarke is backed up masterfully by drummer Marc Gallagher and Ryan but make no mistake he is the focal point. His powerful vocals are belted out furiously in vain-popping dedication to the performance. Compelling though the music was, it was unfortunate to see the band are still plagued by the same problems. Clarke appears something of a perfectionist. Just like in 2008 songs had to be cut off and re-started. He places a certain level of pressure on himself, between the guitar, singing and pedal controlling. Rather than adapt to bum-notes and recover, he insists on calling a halt to songs to the frustration of those in attendance. It is the only glitch in an otherwise fantastic live show.

With the dance floor filling up nicely Windings took to the stage. Decked out in check-shirts, bootcut jeans and skater shoes, it was refreshing to see a modern act not feeling the need to conform to some indie stereotype. Singer Steve Ryan was more than comfortable speaking to the crowd and the band really gave off the impression of being nice, ordinary guys. Unfortunately that’s how the music was too, nice and ordinary. The performance wasn’t bad, nor was the music but perhaps that’s because Windings play a safe brand of indie rock, it’s unadventurous and inoffensive. It was the kind of performance that wouldn’t force you to retire to the smoking area, but equally it did little to promote buying the album.

Gig: Cap Pas Cap

Cap Pas Cap are a Dublin based electronic-tinged indie outfit. Haunted Light is the band’s first album and was launched on the 13th of November off Skinny Wolves. On Saturday night the Rosin Dubh played host to the Leinster hipsters. They have been quietly raising a few eyebrows in the capital and getting favourable mentions in various blogs, however this failed to attract a reasonable crowd and those who chose to observe did so from a cautious distance leaving the dance floor to the tumbleweeds.

With such a lack of energy to feed off it’s somewhat unsurprising that CPC put on a show that was businesslike and nothing more. Their undeniably funky brand of danceable indie-pop had the desired effect on some of the venues more inebriated clientele as tunes like the infectious single ‘Friends’ were rewarded with the awkward flailing-limb moves they deserve.

Having won over pockets of onlookers with a notably up-tempo opening, the set dipped midway with a series of tracks that failed to make any kind of first impression, sounding rather generic and stale. Loitering between The Ting Tings and Fight Like Apes with a hint of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cap Pas Cap are not creating an entirely new or ground-breaking sound, but not every new act needs to be incredibly innovative, what CPC are doing for the most part is creating catchy pop tunes. Not-so-discreet glances and hand signals showed the band is still getting comfortable with some of the songs onstage.

A reversion back to the lively, provided a strong finish to Saturday night’s set with a handful of those impressed queuing up to get their hands on Haunted Light. With a more receptive crowd, a more inspiring stage presence and a removal of filler CPC could become one of the more exciting prospects in Ireland’s ever-growing indie scene.

Gig: Mount Kimbie

When a new band breaks onto the scene and gains instant support the first thing everybody wants to know is what do they sound like…what genre are they? Its part of the logocentric nature of man, we want to be able to point to one single thing and categorise a host of subjects, it’s basic laziness. Its hip-hop, rock and roll, grunge, electro, techno, house, etc. With this one word we try to sum up an entire sound and numerous artists.

What then do we do when an act like Mont Kimbie comes along? Widely regarded as Dubstep this London duo mixes all sorts of  ‘genres’ to create a sound all of their own. Dubstep may be the umbrella they have been cast under but last night’s showing in Galway’s Roisin Dubh was more Flylo than Jakwob, more Onra than Benga. Dominic Maker and Kai Campos varied loops and samples with dreamy synths and rocky instrumentation.

A respectable crowd was present to witness the unclassifiable but undeniably brilliant performance from Mount Kimbie. While aspects of their live show bared resemblance to minimal dubstep, in a manner not dissimilar to Skream, most of the set was dominated by beats resembling the fashionable glitch-hop sound made popular thanks to performers like Nosaj Thing. It was refreshing to see the Londoners emerge from behind their laptops and samplers to pick up a guitar and drum sticks and prove that modern electronic artists are not afraid to make music the traditional way.

LastFm offers several ‘genres’ which could all lossely be applied to Mount Kimbie’s sound but instead of playing the genres game, this time why don’t we just listen to the music and decide if we like it. After last nights memorable performance I have to say I love their blend of electo/electromental/ambient/downtempo/chillout/electronica/techno/garage/glitch hop/folktronica/shoegaze…..oh ya and dubstep.

Gig: The Cast of Cheers

When I first heard The Cast of Cheers album ‘Chariot’ back in February I considered them one of the most exciting bands in Ireland, after last Friday’s performance in the Roisin Dubh they have made their way to the top of that list.

Excited as I was before the Dublin based math rockers took to the stage I couldn’t help but feel an air of predictability about the set. After all ‘Chariot’ is their only release to date and the band has been gigging pretty solidly since then. What I wasn’t expecting was to encounter new material with the set only three songs old. In fact we were treated to three new tracks and the good news is the latest offerings are every bit as good if not better than what ‘Chariot’ boasts.

While these songs retain an energy level equivalent to a kid at Disneyland after downing a litre of Calpol, they see the band branch out more, experimenting with harmonies and placing a greater emphasis on the vocals of lead singer Conor Adams, whose distinctive growl was flawless live. The impact of these new songs was compounded when Adams revealed to me after the gig that the lyrics have yet to be written and what we witnessed was basically improvisation on his part.

If you’re familiar with The Cast of Cheers you’ll know that their songs are effects laden, fist-pumping anthems that do not stop to take a breath. As such the band simply cannot recreate the many layers of noise live and some is pre-recorded. With pedals being stamped on and buttons being pushed its hard to know what exactly is the product of the foursome’s live endeavours and what is merely a backing track.

What is apparent is that this band comes alive on stage, producing a colossal sound matched by their presence. This was reflected in the number of spectators who made their way in from the bar outside having heard the quality on offer free of charge. Not only that but the crowd was a sea of awkward elbows and knees rising and falling as the infectious music compelled its audience to dance.

2010 has been a landmark year for Irish music and The Cast of Cheers have played their part, now they’ve given something to look forward to in 2011.

Gig: Tubelord

Last Friday provided the first of what will hopefully be many good gigs in my new surroundings. Before heading to Galway I had heard great things about the Roisin Dubh and The Black Box and knew that these often housed big names. However I was totally ignorant of Richardsons on Eyre Square as a music venue until Tubelord rolled into town. Richardsons is the kind of venue you can’t imagine in too many places outside of Ireland. It’s small, very, very small. With carpeted floors and pallets stacked at one side and tables and chairs lying about in no particular order in the other, it’s hard to see how this place functions as venue, but functions it does and in a weird way those imperfections add character to the place, even if the sound is slightly fucked.

Tubelord enjoy a cult status in Cork and always draw a crowd of devoted fans ready to sing, shout and dance along. It appears the Englishmen have yet to foster the same level of support in Galway as the compact venue still retained pockets of space. The performance itself ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.The band were fronted by a small brown table adorned with a plant in what initially appeared some sort of misguided pretentious statement. However all was soon revealed as lead singer Joseph Prendergast informed the crowd that he was suffering from a medical condition which had temporarily stolen his distinctive voice, the greedy thing. The table, it turned out was so a close friend of the band could fill in as singer and casually flip the pages of lyrics between songs.

To his credit the substitute didn’t do a bad job considering Prendergast’s tendency for high-pitched squeaky choruses but you got the feeling his friend was imitating more than singing. As if the night wasn’t already posing enough challenges, midway through the set a snapped string provided an unwelcome intermission which didn’t help win over the crowd and some unwarranted ramblings were directed at the performers. Snapped strings and strange singers aside Tubelord rocked out in their customary fashion blaring their infectious brand of energetic math rock.

Since 2009’s debut album ‘Our First American’ friends the band have recorded an EP on Hassle Records entitled ‘Tezcatlipoca’ and, just like every other and these days, they’ve added a keyboardist/synth player to their arsenal. While new addition James Elliot Field added little or nothing to the older tracks, he definitely offers something more on the latest pieces which have a more varied sound tilting towards more melodic while retaining some punch. The set was dominated by the two Hassle Record releases but room was made for old favourites such as ‘Feed Me a Bolx of Words’. ‘Night of the Pencils’ was a notable absentee from the set list but even without the landmark anthem the performance was enough to whet the appetite.

Support on the night came from  Northern rockers Axis Of who impressed with their display of ballsy punk/hardcore. Creating a hell of a racket for a three-piece the band seem to fall slap in the middle of punk and metal. At the lighter times hints of Bad Religion and Alkaline Trio are apparent while the heavier tracks bring to mind Dublin’s BATS. The lads have also clearly been reading And So I Watch You From Afar‘s guide to stage presence, leaping around with little regard for their own health/equipment but creating one hell of a spectacle in the process.