Very (very) occasionally there are gigs I don’t enjoy maybe as much as I should do. This was one of them. I don’t know if was the weather (cold and wet), my own mood or just the fact that, like A Joker’s Rage last year, the headliners had been hyped up so much by other people that I expected more than I ended up getting. And I really was looking forward to seeing them, which kind of makes it worse. It could even have been the young lad standing more or less in front of me, the one who must have talked his girlfriend into going to the gig with something along the lines of, “Let’s go to Fibbers. You can try to listen to the music while I spend the entire evening shouting down your ear or standing with my back to the stage pulling faces at you.” Still, he seemed to be having a good time.
I could leave the review there, but there were plenty of people at the gig who were enjoying it – in fact, it was a great crowd and very pleasing to see such a turnout for a local band – and, as I always say, none of the bands were actually bad, just either not my thing or not right for my frame of mind at the time. So, trying to stay impartial…
…and, with the first band, Huddersfield’s Forever Cult, failing miserably… At the end of their first song, frontman Kieran Clarke asked for adjustments in the sound coming through the monitors, one being “more kick drum”. Personally, I would have settled for less drum overall and more music. Aaron Snowdon, bouncing on his stool, appeared to times to be trying to drive the drums through the stage. It might have been a new tactic to drown out the talkers in the crowd but it meant that, at times, the only indication that Clarke was singing was the fact that you could see his mouth moving near the microphone. In terms of hearing lyrics, he might as well have been chewing gum. A short and sharp second track was followed by a slower, more atmospheric start during which you could actually hear some of the vocals (hurrah!). Then then Snowdon and bass-player Alex Greaves came in and all finesse left the building. Up All Night was fast and impressive and the following track opened with a “Woo hoo!” from Greaves which was clearer than any other vocals in the set. And what is it with band members playing while frontmen are talking to the crowd? It really annoys me – almost as much as people talking during songs – and these guys seemed particularly adept at it. The final three songs of the set, titles obscured by crashing drums or strummed bass, continued in much the same vein. “This is our new single,” announced Clarke, but there was nothing in this set to convince me to put my hand in my pocket. Sorry, guys, but “INDIE/GRUNGE/NOISE” really isn’t my thing. Not a bad reception from those who had turned up early enough to support the supports, though.
Indie Rock isn’t really my thing either, but York’s King No-One are been a band I had wanted to catch for a while, preferably at a gig rather than busking. Opening with a sort of hollow, jangly guitar sound, they were much more subtle during their vocal sections but still energetic in-between, in both sound and actions. They got an even bigger, better reception from the crowd. Their second track saw Zach Lount ditch his guitar and perform vocals only, which stopped him cavorting around stage and tied him to the microphone a bit more. It took a while to get going, but ended well. The band’s new single (again, I didn’t catch the title) was catching and incorporated some unusual guitar-playing – Lound producing some scratchy sounds while Joe Martin, on lead guitar, was a bit more “space-rock-y”. It was an unusual combination and I liked it. The style of the new track reminded me of something, but I never got round to working out what, instead trying to avoid being in the crowd photo being taken by Lound. Their short set ended with the best of the set. A rockier song that incorporated some nice backing vocals.
It was The Glass Caves that had been hyped up to me. Again, I’ve passed them busking many a time, but not stopped to listen, wanting to see them in a proper environment. I went to this gig expecting to enjoy their set and with the intention of buying a copy of Alive, their debut album. By now the crowd had swelled impressively and, with no stage barrier present, was right up close to the band. A small group at the front were chanting, “Glass Caves,” as the band prepared on stage. With everything set up, the lights went down, the stage was washed in purple light and the volume of chanting increased as Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight started blaring through the sound system. The band took to the stage as the drum section of the song started and it was almost droned out by the cheer from the crowd. The high energy opener was accompanied by a great light show – it appears that Fibbers’ lighting system may finally be complete. The band’s frontman had broken his wrist so they had a stand-in rhythm guitarist for the evening and, at times, the vocalist looked like he felt like he should be doing something else as well as singing, although overall they were a very professional looking band. “This is your chance to dance,” was the introduction to Let Go. Although it seemed a little slow for a dance track in my opinion it still got a big cheer, as did the next song, which may have been something about burning down the disco. “Who’s bought the album?” asked the frontman. Plenty had. I still planned to. Apparently, for Be Together, it was time to put our funky shoes on while the next track started off in atmospheric style with guitar and cymbals, a slow start that built quickly in the middle towards a powerful ending. The next was rockier and catchier but there had been little to excite me. The opening to the set had been the most energetic part of it and few of the songs had lyrics that I could pick out in order to work out song titles later. Not that the rest of the crowd, many of whom would have been more familiar with the songs, weren’t enjoying themselves. There were plenty of volunteers to sign the vocalist’s cast, a sing-along was in full flow and mosh-pit action had started. The set was contained good songs, but not the great performance I was expecting. Upping the stakes already set by King No-One, The Glass Caves didn’t just take a crowd photo, instead opting to video the audience while one song was being played, before ending the set on a high with two final songs.
As I say, rightly or wrongly, I was expecting more and therein lies my (slight) disappointment. I would definitely go to see The Glass Caves again, probably with a more open mind and probably enjoy them more. I might even have enjoyed tonight’s gig more of I was more familiar with the music. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see any albums for sale on the night, which is a shame as I would definitely have bought one there and then, but doubt that I will search a copy out.
A good read, should have gone to the Duchess that night though. Nizlopi, Jake Morley and Beth McCarthy. Probably the best gig I’ve been to in York all year