Tag Archives: local

21/2/13 Public Service Broadcasting (+ Pivotal), The Railway, Winchester

Last night I headed to Winchester to have a go at actually being a proper music journalist for once. The main attraction was Public Service Broadcasting, a duo that merge archive films from WW2 and after with music that references Post-Rock, Radiohead and Krautrock. If you’ve ever wanted to boogie to the blitz this was your gig. Unfortunately unless you’d booked in advance you weren’t going to get in, the 6music favourites had managed to sell-out the venue completely and it was packed tight, a good friend even informed me Matt Horne was there. While I got to pretend to be Lester Bangs going backstage and doing interviews with PSB as well as support band Pivotal (watch this space!), I managed to miss most of the opening act Iain Cooper, who seemed a pleasant enough acoustic guitar man from what I heard.


While I snuck to the front of the ever-expanding crowd, second band Pivotal gatherered themselves on stage. I had caught them once before, supporting Slow Club last year at The Joiners. Back then I’d been mightily impressed and particularly taken with the song ‘Spitting Rivets’, so when frontman Lee announced “Hi, we’re Pivotal and this song’s called Spitting Rivets” I was both pleased and impressed by them throwing their apparent best track up first. Their music is a dark post-punk sound where synth-keys, bass, drums and reverb-laden guitar swirl together while singer Lee Pearce’s vocals alternate between a brooding Ian Curtis-esque baritone and and a powerful anguished shout. Often the transition between these two styles can make for the most captivating moments in their music. They’ve just finished recording a bunch of tracks for an EP, and if they’ve managed to capture half of how good they sounded last night then it will be an incredible record. Their songwriting has improved drastically since they impressed me over a year ago, and their level of performance was astounding. They benefitted from an unusual stage layout whereby drummer Chloe Elliot and keyboardist Lucy Pearce were on the sides allowing Lee Pearce and bassist Ben Johnson to play off each other and the crowd. The new songs they’ve written all sounded fantastic with highlights being a song that moved between being in 3 and 4 (scoring huge drumming nerd points) and their closing number which featured some impressive musicianship from each member. I wasn’t the only one impressed though, as the crowd grew ever more responsive to the songs. After Lee aplogised for having broken his E-bow for a track, its end was met with a shout of “You should break more E-bows” from a man near the front. I have no fear saying Pivotal are absolutely my favourite band to come out of Southampton, their sound doesn’t match any of the music other local acts are making and their songs are pretty damn fantastic. Which makes the wait for their EP pretty exciting. Go like their facebook page here, you won’t regret it.

After Pivotal were a band called JayetAL, an electronic post-rock band who made some damn impressive sounds by merging dense electronics with live drums, keys and bass. The only problem being that with so much of their sound coming from pre-recorded loops and samples it was difficult to connect much to what was going on aside from being fairly impressed at the skill on display. Realising it wasn’t quite my thing meant I decided to head to the bar to grab a drink before the main attraction, Public Service Broadcasting could get on stage. Which they did, to huge cheers, once they’d constructed their set with an enormous projecter dead centre, the two members, J Willgoose Esq., wielding synths and guitars alike, and Wrigglesworth on drums and triggers (Roland SPD-SX, tech-heads). The crowd was packed out and I paid the price for not sticking with JayetAL as the small size of The Railway left much of the projected screen blocked by fans in front. Nevertheless I had enough vision to enjoy the gig and what struck me most was how faultlessly Public Service Broadcasting bridged the gap between their recordings/videos and the energy of a live show. Their intensely crafted music builds and rises wonderfully, the climax of ‘New Dimensions In Sound’ (a track they decided not to add to their upcoming album) was phenomenal, testament to the fact that even without the samples that give the band their name, their music can stand alone.

Another highlight was the way in which Public Service Broadcasting engaged with the audience. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who is yet to see them, but we were laughing and cheering in equal measure. The virtual frontman engaged the crowd better than most rock bands I’ve seen. Their music has found a subtly powerful edge in the way it uses these broadcasts, and a particularly fascinating moment happened with the close of ‘If War Should Come’, where the last seconds of the song announced that war had indeed come, and the audience that was whooping and clapping after every other song, fell akwardly silent, hit by the sheer significance of those words. It was a touching, human moment, and gave a great amount of weight to the (previously thought) tongue-in-cheek motto of ‘Teaching the lessons of the past with the music of the future’. Other highlights were a song which had their name as its main sample and a song about fashion that had great music. The arrival of ‘Spitfire’ gained instant cheers, no doubt due to it’s success on 6music, and new single ‘Signal 30’ went down incredibly well, its heavy rock flavour causing a vast proportion of the crowd to begin to bust a move.

With more of PSB’s unique stage banter signalling the close of their set, the audience resolutely demanded more. In good fashion the duo launched into the optimistic ‘Everest’ for their encore. And as the thronging masses filed out I don’t think there was any doubt that Public Service Broadcasting lived up to their challenge of making their live show far more than what is on the record. Their debut album, Inform Educate Entertain, is fast approaching, and at this rate is going to make quite a splash. Do not underestimate Public Service Broadcasting.

Public Service Broadcasting

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The Vinyl Club (28/10/12) – Dolomite Minor, The Redundants, The Red Sky Experiment, Underplay

There’s nothing quite like going to a gig on your own. Standing at the back, scribbling illegible notes into a tiny notebook while people in their groups of friends give you weird looks. This is the situation I was in at tonight’s gig at The Railway, Winchester, prompted to go see four bands I’ve never heard, Dolomite Minor, The Reduntants, The Red Sky Experiment and Underplay.

I was stopped from going into the gig by what I can only describe as a fucking massive crowd queuing outside the entrance for the gig at 7.30. This was one hell of a well organised show. On entry (being one of the few there who was actually old enough) I managed to buy a beer, forget I’d bought a beer, buy another beer and look like a muppet. Luckily to cheer me up there was The Psychic DJ. That’s not his real name, apparently it’s Jamie Simkin, but just as I thought, ‘man, I’d really like to hear some TNGHT in this mix’, he drops their ‘Higher Ground’ in the midst of a set of great dance music, and it goes down as well as a track that sick should – pretty damn well. He closed his set by playing the song I assume is known as ‘Slip Slop Bop’, I’d heard rumours, but it really is something else, something else entirely. To follow was Simeon Leeder, whose set was far more heavily Drum’n’Bass influenced, and as a man standing all alone at the back I couldn’t quite join in the rapid rave developing by the front of the stage.

Charlie from Underplay – James Polley Photography

When the DJs subsided it was time for band no.1 a threepiece, the cautiously named Underplay. The singer/bassist, Dave, looked like a shy young Paul Weller, but most of the attention was on the dapper guitarist ‘Charlie’ whose name was on the lips of most of the crowd, most of the time. This was not underserved as his guitar playing was clearly awesome. As they started, though, I couldn’t help but wish someone had locked them in a practise room for five hours the day before. The songs they had were impressively good, I could here a brit rock influence from The Jam to The Arctic Monkeys, but the first couple songs absolutely needed to be tighter. For a new band I would’ve also liked to see a bit more aggression and conviction, bands need to believe in what they’re playing and show it off like it’s the best thing ever, because people want to believe that it is. For all these doubts, the standard young band complaints, they then proceeded to make me look stupid for the second time that night, by busting out a cover of The Kinks’ ‘All Day and All of the Night’ which fucking rocked. It had everything I was looking for in the opening songs, the confidence, the aggression and the passion. To top it off, the obviously a legend guitarist ‘Charlie’ made the audience cream their pants when, in the midst of a solo, he lifted his guitar up and played the strings with his tongue. They didn’t let up, and closed their set with a song that had a cracking bass riff, ‘The Stalker Song’, and a classic reprise led by a frantic ‘1, 2, 3, 4’. It was good stuff, and if they tighten up the first half, and get every song as energetic at the Kinks cover, they could be a great prospect to see on the local circuit.

Hugh from The Red Sky Experiment – photo by Julian Ellis-Brown

With little time to spare inbetween bands, the group that really organised the whole night, The Red Sky Experiment took to the stage. It’s very rare that I go to a local gig and am in awe of a band, but fuck me, could they play. As a drummer I can only worship at the feet of the stickman behind the set, the first song was an insane jazz-rock track that was begging to turn into 7/8 but always held back in no small part thanks to this drummer’s phenomenal tightness. Launching into Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Always Like This’ the band actually managed to out funk one of the funkier indie rock bands around, their energy and chemistry were something else. They had two vocalists sharing duties, with dual guitars and a bass, and they used this sound so well, holding back when they needed to and cutting loose only when it was ready to explode, especially in an incendiary cover of Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ which was every bit as dirty and groovy as the original. Doubtless if you’re reading this, you can’t wait to hear them for yourself, in which case I have some bad news. This was their last gig ever, the end of the experiment, and trust me, no one is more annoyed than I am about this. Deciding to capitalise on this sadness, they closed their last ever set with a cover of Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ which was even complete with various lighters going into the air for a very emotional end. It was an epic end to a band I really wish weren’t calling it a day, but nevertheless I’m sure all the members will go on to be successful in future projects. Especially that drummer…

Matt from The Redundants – photo by Julian Ellis-Brown

Next up was the band I’d technically come to see, but didn’t really know, The Reduntants, who were launching their new sound, a beefed up one with extra organ power. Deciding to start their set in total darkness was a clever atmospheric move, and as singer Matt’s vocals filtered across the Jeff Buckley influence was clear to hear. But just in case anyone thought they were gonna get moody noodly songs the band launch into a raucous rock attack, fusing Red Hot Chili Peppers riffs and psychadelic rock swirls. Having never heard their previous sound I can’t say how much has changed but I can say that they fully utilised all the sounds at their dispersal, whether it was sharp funky stabs, or Pixies-esque quiet bits before a wall of attack. Elements of Arctic Monkeys and Jamie T kept them from being any sort of retro throwback, but the defining feeling their set gave can pretty much be summed up by the word Groovy. The crowd that clustered around the stage rocked out at every moment available and the rhythms of every track were impossible to resist. The set was let down, however, by a somewhat funky reworking of Radiohead’s indomitable ‘High and Dry’, mainly because I think that song’s been done to death by various pop reworkings from people who would find Kid A unlistenable, but also because it felt like an innapropriate song for this band to play. They had played with swagger and cool, and the cover took them on an unnecessary turn into the melodromatic. But after declaring they would have a new EP out by Christmas, they managed to make up for it, ending on a song which absolutely plundered The Doors, especially ‘Soul Kitchen’ but managed to have a monster groove to finish with. It was a great performance and we’ll have to see in December if they can capture the grooviness and the energy that made it work for their upcoming release. Watch this space.

Max from Dolomite Minor – James Polley Photography

Finally, with the threat of my lift home lumbering on the horizon, the final band, the headliners, Dolomite Minor, offered up their self-proclaimed ‘Raw, Dirty Blues’. Personally, I reckon they had a little bit more about them than that, with occasional straying into punk, rock and grunge, but they did always return back to a dirty blues sound. Being that most fashionable of bands, the two-piece they continue in a great line of bands with formidable hard-rocking chemistry from The Black Keys and Blood Red Shoes to The White Stripes and Japandroids. Guitarist/Vocalist Joe was clearly adept at guitar, his one instrument gave out a phenomenal sound that declared bassists everywhere useless, while drummer Max was the powerhouse anchor, and a Dave Grohl-esque beast at the most climactic moments. They also manage to fuse together the long-haired grunge look with a chic afro between them, which is no small feat. The set was solid with each song having its own distinctive character and tone. At one point an almost Franz Ferdinand riff hinted at a potential commercial single, coated in a characteristic rock’n’roll boogie that suggested they could take lessons from similarly old-school styled band The Jim Jones Revue. I was unfortunately forced to leave due to my inability to drive, but as luck would have it two days later at an unbelievable Palma Violets gig at The Joiners I encountered Dolomite Minor as the support band, and got to hear what the close of their set can sound like – Raw, Dirty Blues.

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