Siblings – The Duchess, 28/02/13

After a couple of recent gigs featuring bands that are being touted, by one source or another, as “the next big thing”, tonight we see some smaller (in exposure if not necessarily in talent) bands.

Apparently Jake Robinson, who seems not to have an actual music page that I can link to, was a late replacement as opening act. At least in physical terms, he can’t be described as small – standing at well over six feet tall – but he is another York-based solo artiste, this time playing electric guitar, that I haven’t come across before. His set had started when we arrived and first impressions were that his vocals were a bit “off”. That might just have been nerves, though, as by the second song they had improved a lot. Tuning issues, for which he apologised, notwithstanding the use of electric guitar was interesting, giving a bigger sound than the more usual acoustic and Jake utilised a number of playing styles, sometimes in the same song. With friends appearing in the audience, he seemed to relax even more and he started some understated banter between songs, with As We Die being dedicated one audience member who also got an apology for having such a depressing track dedicated to her. Depressing it might have been but, even so, Jake still managed to make it sound light. A quick check with the sound desk as to whether he had time for one more revealed that there were actually ten minutes of his set left. The first half of this was filled by the only cover of the set – Neil Young’s Old Man (Andy thought he recognised it, I confirmed with Jake himself) – with the final song, With Me, another of his own. A promising start to the evening.

A couple of posts back, while reviewing Pine For Cedars debut EP, I wrote that I thought that the band needed “to be seen live to get the full effect” of their music. Tonight was my first opportunity to confirm that. Drummer Jamie told me that if he’d known I was coming down he would have put me on the guest list – a nice sentiment but, given the cheap ticket price (£4 for three bands – why don’t more people take a punt on local live music at prices like that?) I don’t really see how any of tonight’s bands, let alone the venue, could make any money out of this gig. The band played an eight song set, including the instantly recognisable four from the EP and at least one new track, which I think was called Believe. Their structure-defying math rock sound is definitely reminiscent of Lost From Atlas (who have now, apparently, split up), with added vocals, the layers of which are produced by having Mike Fong sing backing vocals to Rob Lettice’s lead. I’ll Wait, with its atmospheric opening and bursts of power is even more haunting played live, while Taking Over retains its pop hints but has a bigger sound than on the EP. It’s easy to see that Jamie’s drum lines are more complex and challenging than anything I saw him perform with Dream Of Apollo. As he put it, the latter used “time changes but not time signature changes”. One day I’ll understand comments like that, at the moment I know it has something to do with counting. Anyway, I was right – the EP is good, live the band is even better. One to watch out for and definitely one I hope to see again.

Siblings hail from Ashbourne in Derbyshire (and I can’t work out whether they are. Siblings, that is…) Watching the stage being set up for them was interesting. I had assumed that, as with a lot of support bands, Pine For Cedars had borrowed at least some of the headliner’s drum kit. However, Jamie’s was removed completely and that of Siblings was scattered across the front of the stage. When the band appeared, they played in one line across the stage, with bass-player JD also playing the bass drum and vocalist Nathan doubling-up on snare drum. I’m told that Steele, who tonight played mandolin, is the only “proper” drummer in the band. Strange stage-positioning and instrument-sharing apart, the band’s first song didn’t really do anything for for me – it seemed to build up, but never actually went anywhere. Something about the second song, though, immediately brought to mind Hope & Social, perhaps more in the vocal harmonies and lightness of sound than the actual song itself. That lightness of sound gives the band’s output a kind of Summertime feel – something about it evokes an overall image of bright days and an impression of being outdoors in the sunshine – and the band would probably seem more at home on an outdoor festival stage than in a gloomy club. One much gentler sounding song is even called Summer’s End. The performance, in terms of music and  vocals, was very tight and polished and the sound was mostly playful and light. Currently with only an EP released, if Siblings ever release an album it could be the soundtrack to bright, sunny days (assuming we ever see any of those again…)

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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