@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

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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

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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.