@AlcunaWilds ambient trip hop @TheOakBath

Alcuna WIlds performing at The Royal Oak in Bath, February 2017

Friday night and news was everywhere that the Foo Fighters were playing a not so secret gig in Frome. Had we been invited? You bet we hadn’t! Anyway, we had more important things to do, like watching Bob Ross in an effort to prepare ourselves for our Friday night gig.

Bob Ross

Why Bob Ross? Mostly, because like any sane person, we appreciate the infinite wisdom Bob bestowed on us and the soothing sound of his oil on canvass voice, but mostly it was to get us in the mood for a band who describe themselves as ‘ambient trip hop’.

We arrived just as the support act were packing up, but not too late to pick up their EP and have a chat. They’re called Stillwave and to be honest, on getting home and listening to the EP, we regret not seeing their set. If you like Editors, you’ll easily enjoy Stillwave. Have a listen here.

A mature crowd had packed into The Royal Oak to see Alcuna Wilds and they waited patiently while the band prepared. Aside from the usual drums, bass and lead setup, Alcuna Wilds had brought two synths, a sample pad, a four foot pedal board and a laptop.

Alcuna Wilds performing at The Royal Oak in Bath, February 2017

The set started up with a trip into Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters and built some gentle cymbal work with careful guitar picking over soft synth, before breaking into a fantastic bass led groove, which was finally topped off with Nadja’s angelic, swaying vocals. Towards the end of this opening section Pete Barnes used his lead guitar to simulate the sound of a gale, stirring memories of Storm Doris earlier in the week. Whatever the intention, the opening salvo left us wondering where we’d be taken next.

Pete Barnes from Alcuna Wilds performing at The Royal Oak in Bath, February 2017
Pete Barnes from Alcuna Wilds performing at The Royal Oak

The songs were captivating and swung from tranquil arias to bouncing jaunts, perfectly depicting the “ambient trip hop” description we’d read.

Each member of the band is clearly skilled in their area, but like in so many art works it’s the coming together which yields the true beauty. The seamless union of technology and human artistry produced a mesmerizing performance.

Special praise should go to Simon their two week old drummer, that is to say he only had two weeks of rehearsal before the tour. His stolid percussive work melded perfectly with his band mates. Jordy, on synth, bass and laptop provided enough enthusiasm for a full festival as he bobbed along and Nadja proved not just to have an amazing voice, but charming stage presence too.

We’d briefly met lead guitarist, Pete last year, when his other band Galleons supported Effra at the Bath Fringe Festival. You can read that review here. Pete delivered a brilliant display, buoyed on by his parents who were seeing him gigging for the first time.

Alcuna Wilds have just released a new EP, are planning some summer festivals in the UK and possibly a full album later in the year, which we look forward to hearing.

 

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 24 February 2017

Related Posts

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

Don’t Play With Guns @MolesBath

Don't Play With Guns performing on stage at Moles in Bath in February 2017

Thursday night STEREO at Moles. We were there to watch Don’t Play With Guns, but first our ears were subjected to two dubious support acts, who exploded a cacophony on stage, while butchering Nirvana and Massive Attack covers.

To be fair, they were enthusiastic and probably quite newly formed, so we’ll forgive them; this time, and review them properly at a later date.

So moving swiftly on from the shaky opening acts, lets talk about Don’t Play With Guns (DPWG). The anti-gun lobbyists, came armed with a camera crew, all adorned with DPWG t-shirts and ready to cover the gig from every conceivable angle and this is important; and we’ll explain why in a moment.

They started with a song called “We are who we are”, which was nice, mellow and smooth, but irritating, because it sounds similar to another popular song, yet we couldn’t place it. The second song, “Before she realizes” was an emotive piece in much the same vein as the opener.

Things started to get a little louder in song three, building up to the second half of their set where the gig got decidedly more interesting. Song four (I missed the song names around this area) was another number which sounded similar to a popular song, but this time we managed to figure out what song it was, “Killing in the name”. The next sounded like Slipknot’s, “Spit it out” with Angus, the frontman, executing a trademark Corey Taylor crowd interaction moment, followed by a rendition of “SpongeBob Squarepants”, another Corey trademark moment.

At this point, we realized just how reliant on other artist’s crowd-pleasing numbers DPWG are. Should we be offended? The answer is “No.”

Yes, a lot of the set was covers, including an actual performance of “Killing in the name” and an excellent execution of “Voodoo Child” and the rest of the songs sounded very much like reworkings of other people’s material; but when you’re competing in an industry where every note has already been played in probably every conceivable order, things are going to sound similar.

What’s more, it’s clever; not ripping off other people’s songs, that isn’t clever, but arguably the quickest way to become successful is to find someone who has become successful and repeat whatever it is they did. Now add the camera crew I mentioned earlier, there to gather footage of the band playing on the same stage Oasis, The Cure and a host of well-known bands have played, including Massive Attack; putting free EPs out for people to grab and asking someone to come and review their gig, makes this one of the smartest bands I’ve seen in a long time.

So many bands believe they will become superstars just through sheer talent. Nope. It takes hard work and a business mentality too.

Don't Play With Guns performing at Moles in Bath in February 2017

But, let’s put business plans to one side and talk about actual talent.

Angus Brick’s vocals are delightful, a cross between Eddie Vedder and Finley Quaye and he has superb skills when it comes to getting an audience involved. We already sang Jack Whitby’s praises in the last review featuring DPWG and it was a solid performance from Callum Brundle on percussion, but a special mention goes to Chris Nesbitt, who absolutely smashed the cover of Jimi’s “Voodoo Child”, along with some other creative moments.

They haven’t quite developed the level of lyrical brilliance of Bohemian Rhapsody, but never-the-less, their lyricism is still a lot better than some of the main stream crud you hear on the radio every day.

The band gels fantastically, but they still have a lot of work to do, there were a couple of dodgy harmonies and they need more of their own material. Their set list could possibly also do with some reworking. The first two songs didn’t match with the later numbers and resulted in a slightly slowish start to the set, rather than an explosion of energy that they clearly have within them. However, considering how recently they formed, this was an outstanding performance and sets them up well for the future, if they have the drive and a bit of luck.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 2 February 2017

Listen to Don’t Play With Guns on Spotify

Related Posts

Upcoming gigs at Moles

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

 

 

 

Sam Green & The Midnight Heist @theoakBath

Sam Green & The Midnight Heist performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The Christmas lull is done, the office parties are over, the students are back and we’re on the gig scene once more. Our first outing of the year was to The Royal Oak on Lower Bristol Road to see the brilliant Sam Green & The Midnight Heist.

The venue was packed; not difficult on a Friday night, but considering how long it was from everyone’s last payday it was impressive and testament to Sam’s ability to bring in a crowd.

Paul Hopkins playing double bass at The Royal Oak in Bath in January 2017

On this particular evening, ‘The Midnight Heist’ were replaced by a couple of more than able locals, including the ever-ebuliant Paul Hopkins, who showed a double bass is more than an instrument, it’s a dancing partner.

 

Sam utilizes a number of guitar techniques in his performances, some subtle others less so and more blisteringly fast and dexterous, but by far his best comes out when playing lap style and he showed this by dishing out a heap of swaggering blues-folk-roots concoctions. It was an auditory feast for the audience, hearing the blending of guitar and Sam’s soft yet rich vocals, with a peppering of double bass and percussion, all garnished with a helping of harmonica blasts.

 

Sam admitted this was a very rough and ready set, though you could hardly tell and to the audience it was proof of the quality of the musicians, as between songs he briefly informed the band of what they’d be playing next, whispering “…this one’s in A♭” as they began executing another flawless piece.

Some of the songs draw attention to themes like societal obsessions over capitalism, such as in the song “Money“, but without being at all preachy, where as others (most) are a bit more “Let’s get crazy and jump around”.

Sam Green performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The only annoyance with the evening was that we missed the opening few songs, not by accident, but because past experiences have taught us The Royal Oak rarely start a gig at the advertised time.

That aside, it was a deft display of improvisational prowess on the part of the band and another inspirational performance from Sam Green. If you didn’t see them, don’t worry, you only have to wait till April to see Sam when he’s on tour. No more gigs till then unfortunately.

However, the release of his new solo album is imminent, so watch his page to see when. Even better than that though is the news that preparation has begun for a full band album following the April tour. So there’s a lot for fans to get excited about in the coming months.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 20 January 2017

Related Posts

Upcoming gigs at the Royal Oak

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

@TheShowhawkDuo perform @MolesBath

Showhawk Duo at Moles, Bath

ShowHawk Duo are one of Bath’s secret success stories, having performed live on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show hosted by Nick Grimshaw, at Glastonbury in 2015 and 2016 and at Bestival. So how would they be received by their home crowd?

Support for Showhawk was supplied by another Bath-based band, Benji and Hibbz, an acoustic rap duo, who were accompanied by an 8 piece band on the night.

Benji and Hibbz were chosen to provide support for Showhawk on a UK tour and it’s understandable why. Their rhythm section was exhilarating; space and dynamism shone through and their ability to play requests thrilled the audience as they responded to a shout of “Play Seven Nation Army” with a great rendition of the song.

Covers was the name of the game for the night as that’s what Showhawk Duo have made their name doing. They’ve reworked classic tunes by artists as diverse as Daft Punk and Queen and as they took to the stage a flood of people surged towards them. Moles at full capacity can be a sweaty experience, punctuated by a tsunami of condensation pouring down from the ceiling.

Mikhail from Showhawk Duo
Mikhail from Showhawk Duo

The sound was tangible and worked its way into your body. Showhawk’s all-encompassing live set fully utilized Moles’ epic rig with their own sound man EQing the mix to bring out the nuances in their sound.

The 90s clubbers were a few pints down and ready to rave. Tracks by Alice Deejay and Daft Punk were deftly executed. Jake’s percussive precision underpinned Mikhail’s harmonics as they built up to the pinacle moment in Faithless ‘I can’t get no sleep’. The roaring ravers shrieked at the climax of this song.

Since the video of ShowHawk playing Faithless went viral, they’ve played gigs across Europe to thousands of people, numerous festivals and at the Singapore Grand Prix. Their career only seems to be heading one way.

Jake from Showhawk Duo
Jake from Showhawk Duo

Half way through the set Benji and Hibbz returned to play a Hip Hop medley with ShowHawk, proving their adaptability and the truth that if the 90s clubbing fans were to dwindle, plenty of other demographics would be drawn to their sound and live shows.

Jake and Mikhail empathized with those audience members who felt they were reliving their youth through ShowHawk gigs, and the guy to my right, liberally covering his neighbors with cider, chortled, ‘I’m 36 and I feel it’.

In all this was a brilliant gig, which merged the past with the present and took the audience on an adrenaline charge nostalgia roller coaster. Showhawk Duo are fantastic and if you haven’t seen them live yet, you’ve been missing out.

Written by Splenetic Goose, Photo by Soul Media 2016

 Reviewed: 16 November 2016

Upcoming gigs at Moles

Related Posts

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.


https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-W42N4P5

@G_Morph goes to @thenestbath

Broken Bones Matilda performing at The Nest, Bath

The Night Club. A club at night. A nighttime club. Its a concept that I, Galmorphagorph, have grappled with of late, and one that I’ve only recently begun to understand. While perching on a shallow wall to feed on a wild local city-bird, I noticed a small group of scantily dressed young women blithely stumbling into the open road. They loudly called to their friends behind them ‘We’re going to Po’s!’. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that they were NOT in fact making a startlingly frank and public statement of intent to participate in communal defecation. They were, however, referring to one of a few ‘Night Clubs’ that occupy various cavernous cellars around Bath. They are cold and sparsely decorated, their sins hid by mood-lighting and ear-splitting music. During Halloween I was able to visit a few of these places, passing undetected and trying my best not to kill anyone. Halloween makes me paranoid. Too many Humans are dressed too similarly to my various galactic enemies. Night Clubs appear to be places that young people go to to quite literally loose their minds. They enter these dark and smelly rooms and ply themselves with elixir that drives them insane. As their numbers increase, they coalesce into a pile of writhing sweaty flesh as near as possible to the thundering speakers. They trade saliva and fight and flail and scream half-formed thoughts at the top of their lungs. Some older men stand at the periphery of the shifting meat-pile, staring hawkishly and hornily as the nubile perform their demented sex-rituals. They do this every night. These places are full to capacity every night. Humanity is, of course, Doomed.

I was drawn however to one of Bath’s less obtrusively evil venues, The Nest. Nestled, as it is, at the end of a shallow crescent of picturesque Georgian townhouses, its graffiti’d walls and well engineered sloppiness gives it a certain ineffable quality. I’m told this is what ‘Cool’ is; like getting a tattoo of an old cartoon character, or being terse and passive aggressive towards people for no reason. I can certainly relate to the latter. The musical docket featured a series of Female-Led bands. An attempt to address, perhaps, a gender disparity in what i’ve observed in most facets of human existence. Given that we are all merely children of astronomical cosmic luck, the notion that gender equality isn’t already an iron-clad clause in humanity’s social contract frankly eludes me. There is clearly much growing up to be done, let’s hope Earth isn’t destroyed before you do.

I arrived early so my cloaking device could easily blend me into the corner, emitting a glandular steam that temporarily confuses the human senses in order to pass by the lady at the door. I, Galmorphagorph, do not pay entry fees. I couldn’t help but notice upon my arrival, that a bucket was sitting in the middle of the floor collecting a steady stream of leaking water from the ceiling. A plastic catchment pouch had been constructed to funnel the water into a singular nexus from which it could drop to the bucket. This was a strong start to the evening.

The first band was Broken Bones Matilda, a haunting moniker for an equally haunting band. Led by a green haired, smokey voiced singer and flanked by a set of leather jacket wearing male models, they played a series of sleepy ballads steeped in rural americana. The songs were pleasant, the harmonies tight, the faces extremely attractive, but in context the whole thing felt bewilderingly dark, like a Gothy Steam-punk Willie Nelson. In my last review I bemoaned the west country middle-class obsession with the music of the disenfranchised working American, but I don’t mind it so much when it looks like a Levi’s Ad directed by Tim Burton.

Following that was ‘The Waterbirds’, a high energy indie-punk band led with powerful vocals and some deft drum work, despite some sadly unmemorable song-craft. The guitarist wore a white reindeer snood as he played. I caught my finger subconsciously tracing the handle of my phaser pistol. Like a pound-shop Johnny Greenwood he thrashed around violently and forced my brain to concoct a sentence I hoped I never would… ‘Good lord, he rocked so hard his Snood fell off’. Intermittently he would turn his back to the audience and do a hip shake, wagging his skinny-Jeaned arse two and fro to the music. I was ready to de-atomise this poor fellow. He was saved however when an inexplicable cloud of smoke guffed into the room through a hole in the nearby wall. The smoke gathered around me, giving shape to me. To the casual onlooker, they would see the glassy outline of a muscular alien wizard. I was forced to stay still until it passed.

At some point the Manager wearily walked up and took away the bucket that was catching the water, presumably to drain and replace. He never returned. Water from the ceiling proceeded to cascade into a larger and larger pool across the floor of the nightclub. I’m sure that that’s apt visual metaphor for something, but I haven’t decided what it is yet.

The 3rd act on was Marine: An all-female four piece from London who, frankly, should have been headlining. Their sound was mellifluous and aquatic and appropriate to the name. Bolted to the floor by a solid rhythm section, the two guitarists/singers were able to float euphoniously without the whole thing falling apart. It seemed however that the vocalists, while both excellent, were slightly mismatched. One, a more gentle singer with a choral purity and restless vibrato, the other decidedly more operatic. It felt at times like it should be one or t’other, as when put together it never seemed to gel. The other set back was the relentlessly chatty audience, who clearly energised by the furious Snoodgazm that preceded Marine, couldn’t seem to stop loudly nattering to each other while they played. No fault of the band, and perhaps no fault of the audience; to go from low energy, to high energy and back down did Marine no favours with an audience ravenous for more snood-whipping ass-shaking.

The pool of water grew on the floor.

The last band on was ‘Rachel Jane’. Rachel, presumably the singer, flanked by a guitarist and bassist. They played low key percussion-free Indie-pop, heavily peppered with Christian sentiment. It was largely forgettable, musically. She sang very well, they were all dressed very stylishly, the whole thing was very de rigueur if your singular focus is getting a record deal. I suppose theres something admirable about the naked ambition, the perfectly constructed sterile pop format that must be adhered to if you wish to make this business your bread and butter. Humanity is the only species I’ve come across in all my travels across galaxies, across dimensions, across millennia, that expressed themselves through music. Perhaps that is why I come to these things. I come to see how people express themselves. For some its a compelling, messy and unpredictable necessity to communicate in a language that is entirely emotional. To connect, to scream out the thoughts in their heads for which words alone will not suffice. For other’s its a discipline, a format, a structure to be adhered to, a Ladder to be climbed, a dollar to be made. I see merit in both, but I know which I prefer. The market seems to disagree. And with another nervous fart from the nightclub wall, I swiftly made my exit.

As I left, I looked sadly at the water pool gradually spreading and now dribbling down the steps to the main dancing floor, I, Galmorphagorph, continued to struggle to find relevant meaning to this profound visual metaphor. Perhaps in a time of global social and political uncertainty, the free-flowing progress of western society that held shape for so long now seems to be dribbling messily and hopelessly all over the floor. Could I conquer your planet and rule you as a benevolent emperor? Maybe. In fact, definitely. But frankly, I’d rather the manager just brought the bucket back.

Written by Galmorphagorph, Photo by Jasmine De Silva

19 November 2016

Upcoming gigs at The Nest

Related Posts

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

Squark 008 at @TheNestBath

Don't Play With Guns performing at Squark at The Nest, Bath

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.

p1020571
Lovebite on a Crutch

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.

hatecrimes
Hatecrimes

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

Related Posts

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

 

The Bohemian Embassy at @thenestbath

The Bohemian Embassy performing at The Nest, Bath

We last reviewed The Bohemian Embassy at Party in the City earlier in 2016. “I’ve seen them do better” was the general notion of our review. So this was a second opinion to see if anything had changed over the last six months.

The £5 entry fee must be an attempt to get together enough money to fix the hole in The Nest‘s ceiling, which was forming a puddle on the floor.

But away from matters of roofing and on to matters of music. As the room filled, many old faces appeared; long-term members of the so-called Boho Tribe. Little has changed with the line up from The Bohemian Embassy of old. Will Jefferies has taken over from David Carlyon on lead guitar and though there have been some other additions along the way, the core of Louis Lanfear on drums, Luke Craddock on bass guitar and Ben Angel on vocals has remained the same.

Ben Angel’s ebullient enthusiasm has been a staple of the band since the early days and this was present at the start of the gig as he jumped about, at one point nearly banged his head on the lighting rig. The sound engineering was better than it was the last time we saw them, the crowd immediately started bouncing about and for a moment I thought this was going to be a triumphant return to Bohos of yesteryear.

It wasn’t. I wanted to write a post which poured adulation on them, but it wouldn’t be truthful. They get 11/10 for perseverance. Ben Angel once told me he would do anything to become famous and in Bath, they have managed to build a following, but I don’t know what it’s based on anymore.

There’s not much to shout about once you’ve become immune to Ben’s enticing, raw energy and listen to what’s being produced, as the songs aren’t hugely engaging.

Louis Lanfear is the embodiment of Animal from The Muppets and drumming-wise he can do no wrong as he throws himself at the kit like it’s his last ever gig. Luke Craddock punches out some nice bass rhythms, but they could do with some embellishment. Will Jefferies is lost in the mix. I have to admit to preferring Will’s efforts in Largo Embargo where he stood out and his guitar work was sublime.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of cohesion in the band. Bohos of old were a tight unit who played well off each other, but now they look more like Ben Angel’s backing band as he presents a tribe of one.

There was a change in tempo during the set, with some electronic synth being added into the mix, sparking my interest, but not much came of it. Other sections where I expected innovative musical experimentation turned into waffling sound with little direction.

Contrary to what people may believe, I take no joy in writing this as I’ve shared some great times with members of the band, but if we take it straight back to a fundamental economic transaction, I felt £5 was a ripoff.

Yes, it was better than the last time I saw them, but what they’re currently producing doesn’t in any way stand up to what they were creating during the time of “Built for the Future“, which sits well on my Spotify playlist. I’m going to listen to that and remember the good old days.

Written by @LordSkitch

Related posts

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

What were the @mysteryjets like at @KomediaBath?

Mystery Jets performing at Komedia, Bath

People should demand more from a venue which charges so much. The last two gigs I’ve been to at Komedia Bath have left me dissatisfied, to put it mildly. There were so many annoying or substandard aspects it boggles the mind that anyone holds it in any esteem. Granted that’s just two gigs, but when you’re paying around £15 for a ticket, you expect some quality.

Annoyances aside, there is only one element beyond all others a venue should seek to get right when it comes to any gig and that’s the sound. Whether there’s an in-house sound engineer or a band brings their own, there should be a standard the quality does not drop below.

p1020260What were the Mystery Jets like? I don’t know. I could hear some drums, some bass and muffled sounds which I assume was singing, but beyond that it sounded to me like a noisy mess and I found myself trying to work out what they were playing by looking at their fretboards. There were incidents of feedback on an unfathomable level, which on one occasion I assume was the reason bassist Jack Flanagan raised his palms in what looked like disbelief. It was either feedback or the Mystery Jets have perfected the sound of an actual screaming jet engine.

You’d think that a band would want to ensure their audience are getting their best sound, but that’s difficult when you’re trusting a team to do the job and can’t hear what the audience hears. Thankfully, there was a huge crowd of adoring fans to put money behind the bar, so I don’t think Komedia will be worrying too much, because so long as fans want to see a band it doesn’t matter what the quality of the gig is, right?

Related content

Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.

 

 

Bath Party In The City 2016

The Bohos headlining Party in the City, Bath, 2016

The Bath International Music Festival kicked off in fine form with Party In The City and the city certainly had a party atmosphere about it. However, not everything was smooth-sailing. Some of it was great and some was downright disappointing.

As I walked to my first event of the evening I watched groups of people with guides unfolded, trying to navigate their way to venues, while thumping drums reverberated off the buildings.

Heloise Clough performing at Hall and Woodhouse for Party in the City, Bath, 2016
Heloise Clough

Hall & Woodhouse – Heloise Clough

The venue was packed and getting to the performance area was like playing a drunken game of twister with two hundred participants. This proved a small problem performance-wise, as there was a battle of music vs crowd chatter. However, those who sat close enough were treated to Heloise’s rich vocal talents.

She creates and produces all her own music, which is great, but having a band supporting you can be advantageous from a performances point of view. The set wasn’t bad, but it lacked energy.

Venue: 2 out of 5

Performance: 2 out of 5

 

St James Wine Vaults – Temple Gardens

One of the issues I’ve found with Party In The City over the years is venues on the outskirts don’t get much footfall, which is a pity, because Temple Gardens are superb and deserved a bigger audience than the one they had.

On the way to the Wine Vaults I was tempted by the sound of drums emanating from Queen Sq. (Read more about that in Galmorphagorph’s review. He’s our new Lizard-Wizard Music Critic).

Temple Gardens were slightly late in starting, but that’s understandable when you’re hoping more people will arrive. The wait was worth it though. The band show interesting song constructions, which feature trance-like guitar picking, casual drumming and crooning vocals, which would then explode into heavy rock, before dropping down again into mellower rhythms.

Their use of effects on both guitar and vocals aided the execution of songs, which drew the listener in, before blowing them away with dirty rock guitar shredding and smashing drums. Fantastic! Hopefully, these guys will be back soon.

Venue: 3 out of 5

Performance: 3 out of 5

Broken Bones Matilda performing at Bath Brewhouse for Party in the City, Bath, 2016
Broken Bones Matilda

Bath Brew House – Broken Bones Matilda

This was another venue which was absolutely jammed full to bursting and it was some effort fighting my way to the front. It was clear the audience was full of connoisseurs, because Broken Bones Matilda are a delicacy.

They were mentioned in a previous review and I liked them so much I had to see them again. What BBM do is soft blues and alt rock songs and they do it damn well, creating a excellent blend of piano, guitars, vocal harmonies, double bass and lap steel. All the music is great, but the true beauty is Sarah Mcgrigor’s soothing vocals, which backed by Sam Gotley’s rather more gravelly voice really treats the audience to an exceedingly pleasurable experience of auditory titillation.

Though the venue was heaving, the performance space is far enough removed from the drinking/food area to mean the music isn’t fighting against indifferent revelers.

Venue: 4 out of 5

Performance 4 out of 5

 

Parade Gardens – Headliners The Bohos or was it Bohemian Embassy…

There seemed to be some confusion on stage regarding the name of the headline act. The MC didn’t seem to know which name they were going with. Never the less he proceeded to announce the official headliners for Bath Festival’s Party In The City with all the enthusiasm of a morbidly depressed lemming trying not to distract anyone as it tried its hand at base jumping.

It didn’t help matters that there was a slight drizzle coming down on the crowd, but thankfully most people came prepared with anoraks and umbrellas, which went up as the band kicked off with a lackluster number called “The Leaders Don’t Love You”. While it featured nice harmony work, it didn’t thrill like an opening number should. The second song brought back a little of the energy I’d witnessed in years gone by and it was reflected in the audience who then started bopping around a bit. However the songs weren’t that inspiring and the sound coming from the speakers was painfully loud, even at the back where I was standing.

I don’t know how many people organisers expected at the event, but even with earplugs the sound was too high and the next day I wasn’t surprised to read one audience member’s comment on social media as “…my ears are still ringing…” The setting was nice, but the bandstand’s lighting was poor, back-lighting the band and casting their faces into shadow.

Louis Lanfear’s drumming was exceptional as always, but the whole band looked and sounded tired and what they presented wasn’t enough to keep me there for more than three songs.

I’ve seen them do better.

Venue: 1 out of 5

Performance: 1 out of 5

Jo Quail performing at Party in the City, Bath, 2016
Jo Quail

St Michael’s Church – Jo Quail

St Michael’s Church was a near perfect setting for this performance. Unlike some of the venues I’d visited during the course of the evening, the crowd in St Michael’s Church was specifically there for the music and nothing else. They were an appreciative bunch too.

Jo Quail clearly puts a lot of effort into her work and by the end of the second song she was already breathless. She created some sensational pieces using effects and loops. Possibly my favourite moment was the near flawless simulation of a heartbeat and breathing using her cello.

Somewhat stating the obvious, the use of loop stations can often lead to songs which are ‘repetitive’. That withstanding, Jo Quail’s music takes the listener on a journey and showcased some truly intriguing material.

Venue: 3 out of 5

Performance: 3 out of 5

Meeking performing at Bath Brewhouse for Party in the City, Bath, 2016
Meeking

The Bath Brew House – Meeking

I’m going to state right now that this was my favourite act of the night and here’s why.

Jake Meeking instantly built a great rapport with the audience who were practically packed one atop another. You can tell that this is a man born to perform.

It always helps in a band to be a phenomenal guitarist and Jake is blessed in his ability to bring out the finesse with his guitar. His vocals are splendid, somehow sweet, husky and soaring all at once and the songwriting is superb. Since I last heard him he’s got a flipping fantastic drummer and a solid as stone bassist, bounding about beside him.

The music was blues-rock, but with the emphasis was on rock and they seriously brought it out. It was a great performance. Well done.

Venue: 4 out of 5

Performance: 5 out of 5

Erica performing at Belushi's for Party in the City, Bath, 2016
Erica

Belushi’s – Erica

When I arrived it was clear that things had been going on before hand. The venue was near to full and sweat was running down the windows of the small performance area.

Erica claimed first prize in a battle of the bands last year, which featured 500 other contenders and they were award the opening slot at V Festival 2015 in Chelmsford. A much-deserved prize, since these three indie/pop/rock aficionados clearly have a well polished product.

The crowd had got into the spirit of the evening and possibly some spirits during the evening and the explosive drumming, ripping guitar work and wrenching vocals were just what everyone needed to end off a prolific night of gigging.

I liked the enthusiasm of this trio and the outlandish getup Dalton the frontman wore. The music wasn’t anything spectacularly new, but what they do they do well.

My only real grievance was actually with the venue. The space felt too cluttered to host a music event and the fact they’d left the house music playing meant you could hear an out of sync beat over the music coming from the band.

Other than that it wasn’t a bad end to the night at all.

Venue: 2 out of 5

Performance 3 out of 5

 

Author: LordSkitch