Live Reviews: Akira, Sunnyvale, Exploits of Elaine, The Violets, Idle Vice Pirate, The Faculty, The Heal…

I seem to be going to see a lot of music at the moment so it’s time for another roundup of the stuff I’ve seen. It’s also part of the reason the gig guide hasn’t been updated for yonks – apologies for those who ever glance its way. It WILL happen. Anyway, meanwhile here’s a roundup of the gigs I attended 14/03/05 to 19/03/05.

Monday (14th March) was a night at the Marquee (now in Leceister Square) arranged by Twentysixfeet and it must be said, the picked a good line up. First was [url=] Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element [/url] who were ear-bleedingly loud thanks to the PA. Oh and this was a damn good thing, by the way: everything was sounding about 54% better than normal and it normally sounds fantastic. [url=] Akira [/url] fill up most of the Marquee’s huge stage with Gbenga’s effects pedals and Joel is forced to walk around in front of the stage while playing. (Okay, so I lied about the space taken up by the effects pedals.) The PA doesn’t do Sarah’s V-Drums so much justice as the engineer can’t seem to get the high sounds out enough (not normally a problem Sarah reckons). While I think I enjoyed their gig the week before more, it’s certainly true that there is more to appreciate each time you see them. [url=] The Exploits of Elaine [/url] are why [url=] Pretentious Heathens UK’s [/url] Dubs has come 150 miles to be here, and it’s easy to see why. When I caught the beginning of their set at [url=?q=node/view/191] Akira’s February Catch night [/url] I thought they were decent and very much in the Mogwai mould, but tonight they’re electric, flinging themselves about the stage and very very pleasingly noisy. It’s a great gig and I’d advise any fans of noisy instrumental ideas to check them out. Finally we get [url=] Twentysixfeet [/url] who surprise me by not being particularly post-rock, but rather sound more like a sort of dub-rock fusion with crazy moments. Their drummer has nine cymbals plus the hi-hats – [i]nine[/i] FFS – while their guitarist is surrounded by half a recording studio’s worth of equipment. Now, I’m not a fan of this much equipment – I tend to feel the place for ‘production’ is on the record, rather than sticking in a small sound that no one is really going to hear or care much about. To be fair to them, Twentysixfeet do really use it well, but the best bits of the gig are arguably when the four of them are letting go and getting on with it. That said, the Kaos Pad (sp?) their singer bashes away at gives some very cool moments. Overall, I am undecided about how much I like them but their ideas are all in the right place, I reckon.

Tuesday night is Artrocker night at the Buffalo Bar in Highbury, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to go. There are only two bands tonight, or maybe that’s always the way they run it. First up are [url=] The Violets, [/url] a three piece consisting of a cocaine-thin, leggy, bleach-blonde singer, a guitarist and none-too-shabby drummer, and it’s inevitably very much in the NYC art punk area of sound. She can really sing and does a good performance though early on the band seem very nervous and the opening few tracks are a bit lifeless. With a track called ‘Hiero’, however, things pick up and we get some nice hooks coming through, while the band seem to loosen up and get into their sound, banging through four of five more tracks and finishing on blinder. They seem to have a good fanbase and I end up chatting briefly to a couple of fans who’ve made the trip up from Brighton to see them. The second act is called [url=] The Flash Express [/url] and can be described by the simple phrase “John Spencer Blues Explosion”. They’re from Hollywood, CA and as we’ve come to expect from the Yanks when they play over here (okay, the ditchwater-like Strokes aside), they put on a great show, and if blues-funk-noise from a bass/drums/guitar three-piece is your sort of thing, then these guys are your sort of band. Personally I enjoyed it while there but nothing really grabbed me enough to want to take it home so I’ll stick with my JSBX records for now.

Thursday finds me south of the river to catch [url=] Idle Vice Pirate [/url] at [url=] The Peel [/url]. I’m reliably informed the venue is shit, but while it’s kind of dark and grotty, it’s no less salubrious than The Dublin Castle and the sound engineer really knows his way around the desk. My last catching of IVP at The Watershed was good, but both Candi and Tim’s bass were too quiet. Tonight we have pretty much a perfect sound mix, with everything loud and clear, Candi’s great on stage and it’s a fantastic gig. The two bands I catch after do little for me. The first seem to be doing a sort of Blink 182 rock thing but without any life, sporting what I hope are authentic whiney American accents. Unfortunately I can’t hear the singer between songs to find out. After them come some anthemic emo band. The singer sounds London when speaking but elects to impersonate Brian Molko when singing and the songs fail to light any fires.

Last night (Saturday) I saw three more bands, starting at [url=] The Bull & Gate [/url] where [url=] The Faculty [/url] were opening the evening up. The sound was loud, almost ‘wall of noise’ like and the gig sounded fantastic because of it. They’d dropped a couple of older songs for not sounding right but brought in a new one to end the set on that sounded excellent, and bodes well for future offerings. Next up was a bizarre band called [url=] The Lovely Brothers, [/url] consisting of a bow-tied and jacketed singer somewhere between a thin Richard Whitely and Dale Winton, three guys in outlandish, almost fetishist costumes, covering their heads with balaclavas or tights, and two women dressed up like they were from a Victorian melodrama, face paint and all. They do songs about how evil the American administration is, how Arnie hasn’t done a decent film since T2 and going to the offy for the first time, desperately trying to convince them that you’re over 18. The set has me grinning the whole way through and from the looks of their site they’ve been at this game for a LONG time. After this I hiked my way over to the [url=] Dublin Castle [/url] to catch [url=?q=node/view/108] The Heal, [/url] who I reviewed back in November based on a couple of MP3s on their site. The set proves they’re an accomplished band on stage, but I’m left feeling that none of the songs really stood out for me. I compared them to the Foo Fighters then and I’d say that’s still true, but there are only a couple of tracks off each Foos album I like and the rest just okay, so I may not be the right person to be trying to say either way about song quality here. The Heal haven’t managed to write a song yet that I want to own but they seem to have a lot of fans so I don’t think that matters.

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7 Responses to Live Reviews: Akira, Sunnyvale, Exploits of Elaine, The Violets, Idle Vice Pirate, The Faculty, The Heal…

  1. Anonymous says:

    IDLE VICE PIRATE make a Hole meets the Libertines in a lift before they bump into No Doubt whilst out dancing with Muse kinda sound…hearing is believing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    less drama please, love IVPx.

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