It was Tuesday night and with a couple of hours to spare I decided to saunter on down to The Nest to see what Squark is all about.
The gig took place in what I believe is called the Piano Lounge, the piano might have been the giveaway. It’s a brightly colored, yet dimly lit room with some couches, the aforementioned piano, a small DJ booth and some pinspot lighting on a corner stage.
Don’t Play With Guns were up first. They’re a three week old, four piece, who met on the Bath Spa University commercial music course. Owing to the bands recent birth they can be forgiven for playing half a set of well executed covers. Their originals were impressive and displayed good construction and lyricism and were performed well, but the two stand outs were Jack, the bassist, who clearly knew what he was doing and Angus, their frontman, who had a wonderful husky edge to his voice. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more from this band and in particular what they sound like at full volume.
Next up was Ben, one half of an act called Lovebite On A Crutch. His set also had a couple of covers in it, one was Purple Rain, a tribute to one of the many recently deceased mega-stars who are being remembered in gigs around the country. If 2016 has done anything, it’s reminded us of the lack of quality in current mainstream music. Ben is an acoustic singer-songer with a good voice, unfortunately, he knows it and I feel he’s copying the styles of established musicians with too much ease. I’d like to hear him step out of his comfort zone and do something, more challenging. How he does that is up to him, but it’s safe to say the world has enough singer-songers.
The poetically named, Hatecrimes were next on the bill and started their turn with some trippy Korg and guitar effects, creating a haunting atmosphere. This was built it up with a dash of looping, some soft vocals and a helping of fuzz, undulating in a way that caused the sound guy to earn his keep as the levels peaked and troughed. The lead guitarist and vocalist resembled a grunged-out Shaggy, from Scooby-doo fame, not the ‘Boombastic’ variety and the music he and his unassuming friend doled out was just what it said on the label “Gritty and truthfull, chilled yet noisy.” – quoting their website. The changes in tempo and volume and the sometimes rambling, sometimes solid lyrics created an engaging soundscape.
Alas, I missed St Leonard’s Horses. It’s the constant issue with midweek gigs, which some venues get round by putting the headliner on a bit earlier. In any case, I’d seen three good acts and that was enough to satisfy me.
Over the years, the venue which is now known as The Nest has had many guises, younger generations will remember it as Back To Mine, while older Bathonians may remember it as The Fez Club. I’m sure there are people who could tell me what it used to be before that, but needless to say its current incarnation is doing a good job for the local music scene. Its multi-staged areas and ability to create different moods from room to room, along with its increasingly impressive performance schedule of up-and-coming and established talents make it an integral part of Bath’s rich artistic scene.
From what I’ve witnessed Squark could be a long-running success for the venue. Yes, there is a free open mic just down the road, but they aren’t showcasing the same level of talent, nor do you have to struggle to hear the musicians above the drinking set. The only way I could see it improving is if they did away with anything commercial sounding and developed the ‘underground’ vibe which the night definitely leans towards.
An initial £3 payment will see you through the door and will get you a badge, which entitles you to a £1 discount on subsequent visits, so £2 isn’t that much for a night of good music. I can see this becoming my weeknight treat.
Written by @LordSkitch
Upcoming gigs at The Nest
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