For the first time in months we manage a full turn-out, this time to see three new bands at a slightly tweaked Duchess. There’s new speaker stacks, the games tables have been removed and the venue has been made slightly smaller by bricking up the area to the far right of the stage (which always seemed a bit of a waste of space anyway).
First up were Sombre, listed on the link as Luke Saxton and Robert Green but tonight a threesome, presumably joined by an unnamed drummer. Sounding like a cross between Sigur Ros and the more introspective bits of Pink Floyd, Sombre are one of the most interesting new bands I’ve come across recently. Three of the four extended songs that they filled their half hour set with had the same basic structure – quiet start, building to a louder middle section before fading away again – and some of the lyrics were a bit repetitive, but the shared vocals were nice and the fourth and final song was much bouncier and emotional. Overall a highly enjoyable thirty minutes which turned out to be the highlight of the evening.
I was, indirectly, recommended Missing Kids by somebody who has, before tonight, not steered me wrong and it was partly that recommendation that saw me going out tonight. A kind of reverse Ting Tings, the band comprise solely of D’Mudie on guitars and vocals and S’Anderson on drums and whispers (and other sounds). Unfortunately, their very short punchy songs failed to engage tonight’s audience, which was strange given the number of people who seemed to be attending with flyers from the band. Quite a large number of the people who had stood at the front for Sombre had retreated to the back of the venue, where they inevitably tried to talk over the band who, in turn, seemed to take a long time between songs and came across as just a little too moody (excuse the pun…) and disjointed, not helped by some muddy (again, forgive the pun) vocals. There was some effortless yet effective drumming and, it has to be said, I thought the set took off during its second half. However, I can’t help but think that a slicker performance to a more receptive audience would showcase Missing Kids more than tonight’s outing did.
The ABC Club are pretty much being touted as one of the next big thing, with plaudits coming from the likes of NME. A five-piece from Leeds, it seemed strange that on stage only the lead guitarist and drummer actually seemed to want to be in a band – the rest just sort of stood around, playing their instruments without any conviction or, in the case of vocalist Zandra Kleivins, staring into space (or at the floor) with her hands firmly clasped behind her back. A shame, really, as she probably had a good voice but her slightly nasal tones failed to make an impact above the slightly too loud music. The music itself reminded me a little of the Killers, except that none of the songs really stood out for me. And then, just two thirds through what should have been a forty-five minute set (and while Roj was, shall we say, otherwise disposed), something strange happened… The rhythm guitarist simply stood his guitar against a speaker, the lead guitarist literally threw his to the floor (and his plectrum in the air) and both walked off stage. I might be wrong, but it seemed to me that the drummer looked a bit shocked and, shortly afterwards, the stage was empty. Nobody shouted for an encore and we were left wondering whether the whole thing was part of the act, an outburst of petulance or, perhaps, an indication of turmoil within the band.
Whatever the reason, it was a strange end to a mostly underwhelming evening.