Does It Offend You? Well, Only A Little….

January 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm (Gigs, Music) (, , )

Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Concorde2, Brighton – 19/11/09

The mosh circle, such as it is here, is like some kind of crèche for kids with ADHD. Tiny limbs fly around in joyous abandon even during the two support acts, whose mediocrity is rewarded with a display of exited adoration by those already crushed together at the front, thrilled to be let out on a school night. The over-eager dancing and general sense of being in a school disco is clearly bothering some of the older spectators, but it does make for a great atmosphere, and after all, it’s hardly as if we’ve come to see Sigur Rós.

DIOYY make the kind of music that is pretty much pointless to experience from a distance. There is barely any traditional musicianship to admire, little emotional connection to be made to the band other than a hyper-aggressive sense of anger and for the most part very little to be enjoyed in the way of melody. What they do specialise in, is a sound-clash of old school Prodigy beats, Daft Punk style synth lines and hyped up punk vocals delivered with power, force, and absolutely zero subtlety or originality. It’s a dirty, almost guilty pleasure that serves little purpose other than to soundtrack an evening’s wasted abandon, but on that level it delivers pretty well.

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The band begin with a fairly slack version of ‘With A Heavy Heart…’ which doesn’t generate nearly as much heat as it should, although the crowd are up for it immediately, before segueing straight into ‘Weird Science’. This comes over much better, as do the other tracks that make the band sound like tight electro DJs, as they actually end up sounding tighter than the more band-based songs. Immediately proving the point, ‘Being Bad Feels Pretty Good’, drifts by in dull anonymously, while ‘Doomed Now’, with its distorted vocals and emphasis on clashing guitar and synth lines is riotous, with the atmosphere towards the front verging on actual violence.

A couple of new songs are aired with mixed results. One tentatively entitled ‘Techno’ takes the tolerable bits of Kasabian, ramps up the intensity and then drops a massive techno bassline underneath to great effect. ‘Over Your Shoulder’ on the other hand, merely sounds like Kasabian being covered by a bad Bowie impersonator which is every bit as terrible as it sounds. ‘Lets Make Out’ sees the band accompanied by some kids from the crowd, but as none of them seem to know the chorus (which consists of shouting ‘let’s make out’ repeatedly), the whole exercise is rendered pretty pointless.

A mixed bag then, but on form (a frenetic ‘Battle Royale’ and closer ‘We Are Rockstars for example) DIOYY are capable of delivering some truly joyous moments of wasted, violent excess. On this basis, it seems to suit the kids just fine.

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‘Like Watching The A4 Paper Taking Over The Guillotine’

January 17, 2010 at 5:27 pm (Gigs, Music) (, , , )

Everything Everything – Jam – 03/11/09

It’s nice to be surprised sometimes. Having become fairly well acquainted with Manchester’s Everything Everything through both their performance at this year’s Great Escape festival, and a fairly rigorous addiction to their MySpace page, I was expecting quite a lot from tonight’s performance. What I wasn’t expecting was two support bands providing quite so much in the way of killer pop hooks, brilliant falsetto vocals, laptops on ironing boards and live trumpet sampling. Both Brighton’s Rob The Rich and Scottish electro multi-instrumentalists Findo Gask were superb in their own right, and while space considerations prevents a full discussion of exactly why, my advice would simply be buy some tickets and find out for yourself.

Findo Gask - More To Follow, Hopefully.

By the time Everything Everything have morphed from enthusiastic onlookers into the evening’s main event, there is a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. They open proceedings bravely with the light ambience of ‘Tin’, which features beautiful vocal harmonies over a dreamy Eno-esq electronic soundscape. It’s a low key start, but in the context of the rest of the night’s offerings, gives a breathtaking display of the band’s versatility. Debut single ‘Suffragette Suffragette’ follows soon after, and somehow succeeds in marrying a Battles style drum and keyboard backing to a heavy guitar break reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘Myxomatosis’ and a perfect pop chorus.

It is this kind of thrilling hybrid of styles that is central to the band’s approach. They wilfully chuck everything they feel like into a musical melting pot, twice, with scant regard for time signatures or the difficulty that HMV’s shop assistants will have in filing their CDs. There are moments tonight when this doesn’t always work. Some of the subtle nuances of tracks like ‘Hiawatha Doomed’ for instance, are somewhat compressed by the Jam’s low ceilings and cramped stage with only a few fragments of melody and some strained vocals surviving.

Overall however, they demonstrate an incredible flair for a huge range of musical styles, often within the same song, with the result that many of their four minute songs sound like absolute epics. ‘NASA Is On Your Side’ for example, starts a bit like a weird of hybrid of Radiohead’s ‘Pyramid Song’ and ‘Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm’ by the Crash Test Dummies, before gradually easing through 80’s balladering and into Sigur Ros territory.

It has the potential to sound like an unbridled mess, yet every song has a definite structure, sometimes only discernable after a few listens, and more often than not reveals an uncanny pop sensibility. The best is saved till last with a double whammy of ‘MY KZ, YR BF’, which features one of the best pop choruses of the year, and ‘Photoshop Handsome’ which perfectly sums up their crazed kitchen-sink alchemy in four minutes of perfect pop, at the end of a near perfect night.

First published in XYZ Magazine

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You Say Party, We Say Sigh….

November 20, 2009 at 8:16 pm (Gigs, Music) (, , )

Bloc Party, Brighton Centre, 24/10/09

Things aren’t looking too promising in the Bloc Party camp right now. The London based four piece have already confirmed that this ‘Bloctober’ tour will be their last before a lengthy hiatus, and recent quotes from drummer Matt Tong suggest that he may not be re-joining the band when they return. Tong’s absence would be a massive blow for a band who have faltered somewhat since the release of their excellent debut, ‘Silent Alarm’, four years ago.

Indeed, perhaps the biggest problem with follow up ‘A Weekend In The City’ was just how far Tong’s incendiary skin work had been pushed into the background in favour of Kele Okereke’s vocals. It would be a real shame if they were to break up completely, and possibly an even greater shame if they chose to carry on without one of the key elements that made them so interesting in the first place, as there are moments tonight when they sound like the best band in Britain. Sadly, there are also times when they sound utterly uninspiring and pedestrian, and it remains to be seen which of these elements will ultimately win out.

Clad in a white ‘Waste Man’ t-shirt and peaked cap, Kele bounces onstage to a rapturous reception as the band take their positions for opener ‘Waiting For The 7.18’. It’s a bit of a strange choice to open proceedings, but works about as well as any song about waiting for a bus can expect to, mainly due to the closing refrain of ‘Lets drive to Brighton on the weekend’. It’s followed by ‘Halo’ which ups the energy levels nicely, before the band launch into ‘Positive Tension’, which proves to be distinctly anti-climatic. Much of this is down to the way in which Kele chooses to alter his delivery, deliberately dropping words from the end of lines, and letting others run over into the next. It is a trick he will repeat throughout the night, and only serves to severely disrupt the flow of what should have been a highlight, making it sound rushed and under-performed.

Much derided recent single ‘Mercury’ gets an early airing, and perversely is one of the first songs that really shows what the band can do in a live setting. The rolling dubstep style bass line, distorted brass and skittering drum beats manage to dominate the track and ramp up the tension in a way they never quite manage on record, while Kele’s wild feral yelping works better as an addition to the collage of sound, rather than its centre point.

This issue becomes fairly crucial throughout the show, as tracks like ’The Prayer’, ‘I Still Remember’ and ‘Two More Years’ drift by in a sea of repetitive vocals and tame instrumentation. It is only when Russell Lissack’s searing guitar is allowed a chance to break through that songs like ‘Trojan Horse’ offer up anything of interest, and sadly this happens all too rarely. When they do get it right however, the results are ferociously brilliant, as an incendiary triple whammy of ‘Hunting For Witches’, ‘Song For Clay’ and ‘Banquet’ aptly demonstrates. ‘Hunting For Witches’ in particular marries thunderous drum beats and bass lines with the menace of Lissack’s descending guitar riff and a host of unsettling sound effects.

The band finish strongly with an encore that includes both ‘Flux’ and ‘Helicopter’, which sends everyone home happy.  However, the fact that three albums worth of material has only managed to produce a handful of moments that really excelled in a live environment suggests that the band may have stagnated slightly. Hopefully Bloc Party’s planned hiatus will provided an opportunity for members to recharge their creative batteries and come back stronger with some fresh ideas and finally fulfil their early potential. 

First published in XYZ Magazine

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