The Great Escape Festival – Day 2

May 27, 2009 at 2:44 pm (Gigs, Health) ()

Holy Fuck

Holy Fuck

Day 2 of the Great Escape and it’s an early-ish start at the King and Queen for an afternoon that kicks off with Guilford’s Tommy Monroe **. Looking like the freshly exhumed corpse of a 1970’s Bowie impersonator dug up and reanimated in Shoreditch, his vocal histrionics cut cleanly enough through thrashed acoustic guitar, but the substance fails to truly captivate. His repertoire does include a song entitled ‘Giraffes’ which is a good thing. The following number entitled ‘Lah Di Dah’, less so.

3 Seeds in Paris

3 Seeds in Paris

Tommy is followed by Three Seeds in Paris *** who own the relatively small stage with all the panache of seasoned performers, and you expect, require a wheel barrow to transport their collective bollocks from gig to gig. Even the most cursory scan of their lyrics is pretty inadvisable however, and the whole thing veers dangerously toward style over substance pub rock, but they are tight enough and cocky enough to invite further interest. If they can stop shunting their lead guitarist to the back of the stage and the depths of the mix, they could be an exciting proposition.

This is more than can be said for Sheffield’s Spires **. Other than a monster of a drummer who comes off as half club bouncer and half school bully, the only part of their show to create any interest at all is the stuffed owl that adorns the front of the stage, and when you’re being overshadowed by taxidermy you know you’re in trouble.

Spires, essentially

Spires, essentially

After a short break to re-fuel, it’s off into the squalling rain to the Sallis Benney Theatre for New Zealand’s Veils **** for which there is a massive queue. With the delegates pass finally coming into its own, I am granted entrance to a truly mesmerising show as lead singer Finn Andrews unleashes his incredible verbal assault into the intimate, scarlet-tinged auditorium. Backed by what appear to be an angel, a surly schoolgirl bassist, and a lead guitarist that is somehow both bitingly sharp and warmly resonant, the group receive a rapturous reception. The one slight nagging doubt is Andrews’ uncanny vocal similarity to Jeff Buckley, which is eerily spot on, but with songs this good I’m past caring.

The Veils

The Veils

Next up on a quite excellent bill for the theatre is hotly tipped Micachu and the Shapes ***. Having seen their performance at the Concorde2 supporting Late of the Pier last February, I failed to see what all the fuss was about, but on today’s showing the hype is beginning to seem justified. At times coming across like a deranged skiffle band, their low-fi ethos extends to the keyboardist using upturned wine bottles for percussion, while even the drummer, who is working with a full kit, sounds like a toddler smashing away at a selection of his mother’s saucepans. Underneath this fuzzy chaos however lurks a creative mind with the complexity to work through several time signatures per song, and produce a wildly disparate selection of sounds from just three band members, while still fitting in killer pop hooks. Like a small child harbouring a terrible secret, Micachu is at once cute, beguiling, precocious and terrifying and only a series of technical difficulties prevents this show from being an unadulterated triumph.

Micachu and the Shapes

Micachu and the Shapes

The dismay engendered by the size of the queue for Casiokids at PoNaNa’s is topped only by the disturbing revelation that both The Golden Silvers and The Big Pink’s shows have been cancelled at Komedia. With precious little time to get anywhere and back in time for Holy Fuck ***** at 10.15, we decamp to the William 4th for a pint in preparation for the coming onslaught. And what an onslaught it is too. On the surface, Holy Fuck come across as four of your coolest mates who’ve been mainlining Neu, The Chemical Brothers and science textbooks on synaesthesia for a few years and then brought their esoteric collection of vintage analogue equipment round to yours for a jam. This spirit of experimentalism provides the perfect spark of creativity to ensure the band’s songs never outstay their welcome, while the musicianship and drive of the live bass and percussion keeps everything taught and focussed. The perfect band for the moment, and a great example of key elements including lighting, sound setup and venue converging to create a wonderful whole.

It’s hard to see what could top them in all honesty, and any band playing the Corn Exchange at midnight this year seem to be encumbered with the elevated expectations of a crowd who have queued for over an hour in the cold to be granted access. The scenes at the door and in the snaking shivering queue verge on the ridiculous as the patience of punters is tested by the weather, their bladders and people attempting to push in. Under the circumstances it’s hard to see how any band could live up to this kind of build up, but Metronomy *** give it a good go.

Bolstered by the addition of a full live band, Joseph Mount’s electro pop is easily meaty enough to fill the venue to the rafters, and each song is delivered with technical panache and infectious energy. If anything the live set is almost too perfect a reproduction of the band’s recorded work to truly thrill the crowd, but for the most part they are eagerly receptive. Arms are raised aloft in joyous salute, hair flails around to frenetic beats, and lyrics are shouted back with vengeance, which for a size of crowd this big is an achievement in itself. There’s even a pretty large and totally unexpected mosh circle near the front that sucks in innocent bystanders and churns out goggled eyed, sharp elbowed whirling dervishes which probably says more about the barely contained frustration of the queues, than the band themselves.

Holy Fuck pop in to spin some tunes afterwards, but for the majority it’s off into the night for further adventures and the promise of more to come tomorrow.

First published ay TheBrightonMagazine.com

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