(See pictures from this show by Stuart Leech here).
First up are Stranger In Moscow, who launch immediately into a big fast racket like a motorway pile-up. Heavy use of the old quiet-loud-quiet dynamic, big open chords, tappy-twiddly bits, shouty bits and whispered bits and vocal trade-offs, all at 200 miles per hour. They need a little polish; the drummer gets lost a few times (which at BPMs like this is no great surprise) and they are late to the microphones a little too often. But there are bucket-loads of enthusiasm on display. They’re full of piss and vinegar, heading at breakneck pace face first toward the concrete. More discipline will pay dividends. Top marks for haircuts though; running the risk of pigeonholing themselves. Which would be a shame, they could become quite interesting if they focus on forming a coherent sound.
Little London have been off the booze this evening, keen to avoid the shambolic events of their last live show at the registry. As they kick off, all black shirts and suits, the difference is astonishing. They’re sharp as razors and tighter than a thrasher’s jeans tonight, chunky riffs riding on the precision rhythm section, the vocals and harmonies all bang on the money. Theirs is the accessible sound of classic Brit-Rock; brash and loud, but anthemic and fun to sing along to. They have a great stage presence, the right mix of banter with the crowd and focus on the tunes. There?s a little bit of jazz-funk thrown in for fun in the middle of the set, and later a brief hiatus as Dev’s guitar strap mount comes loose again. Time for some Polyfilla and a bigger screw, maybe? They save crowd-pleaser ‘Small Town Coma’ till last, and leave the stage grinning like loons. Excellent fun.
Five Mile Drive seem to be coming from the more metallic regions of the emo landscape, with a much heavier chugging feel than the average haircut band. The band are well practised, having recently been out on a small tour of the country, and the communication between the individual musicians is obvious. They play precisely; the songs are well structured with interesting dynamics and pacing. And they like to move around a lot as well, singer DD all over the place all the time and somehow still managing to deliver some spirited vocals. The whole band were well into the music, almost a little lost in it at times. Sadly the sound was a little mushy in the middle, and the guitars and vocals ended up somewhat mixed together, which prevented the performance having maximum punch. But still a sturdy brisk set from a band who definitely know what they’re doing, and whose confidence has taken quite a boost.
Psyattica, one of the current local ‘big hopes’, are professional to the max. Their musicianship is excellent, their songs are well-written, sensibly put together and just the right length. They perform with a cheerful abandon, and an obvious confidence in their abilities. They have charisma, and that’s an important thing if you want to really get on top in the industry. Psyattica have all the necessary ingredients to get themselves a proper record deal if they keep at it. Although this means, at least in my opinion, that their material is a little uninspiring. There is scant originality or invention apparent, the songs all seeming to be an amalgam of currently popular techniques. But that won’t do them any harm in the ‘making it’ stakes, where songs that tick the right boxes are what the customer wants. If they can keep up the pace, they’ll soon be lumbering around the country in a battered old van playing places the size of the Wedge every night. They seem to have the ability to connect to a crowd, and that is a priceless thing.