To be honest I thought it might be a bit empty but I arrived to a full bar of Cardiff’s music fraternity. Carl Rylatt on the decks, familiar faces playing with Lego. Musicians complaining about cookies that were too hard. Not your usual Monday night out.
First up on stage was Jemma Roper, I was always a fan of Sammo Hung and latterly Heck, both bands had their art rock leanings and both were fronted by Miss Roper. Her doll like poses and almost child like vocals were an integral part of both bands’ look and sound. Now though, she’s struck out on her own. Echoey guitar lines underpin vocals that have shed some of their saccharine sheen, at times it’s reminiscent of Nico and certainly has a late sixties/early seventies feel to it. There’s every chance that there’ll be a bit more experimenting with sounds other than guitar in the future and the short set tonight is a promising start.
The Failed NASA Experiment split opinion. I thought they were a bit noodly and had no direction, everyone else thought they were amazing. I couldn’t see the stage during the first few, ummm, let’s call them songs, so had to rely on my ears. There were certainly interesting sounds being made and the two guys in the band knew their way around instruments. My problem was that it wasn’t really building into anything. When I got down the front and could see what was going on, I began to understand the attraction, violin bows were being used on cymbals, the drummer had a selection of about six thousand drumsticks that were interchanged depending on what he was scraping, tapping or occasionally, drumming. Non drumming guy was busy with a shitload of effects pedals, a keyboard, some plastic charity shop instruments and more percussion. The crowd looked mildly hypnotised. Maybe it was my lack of recent drug experimentation but I just think that ‘interesting’ doesn’t always mean ‘entertaining’, I certainly wouldn’t be putting the CD on while hoovering the house (if I ever hoovered the house). They just seemed a little impatient, sounds changed and instruments were swapped before they hit their stride. A little more structure (and I don’t mean verse chorus verse) and a final aim to each piece and I could really like them. I know full well that Vivers will love these.
H.Hawkline sound like The Kinks if they’d listened to Cluster. This is a good thing. They were also drunk. This is also a good thing. Steve Baboo plays bass in this band, drunk Steve is worth the admission fee alone (OK, so it was free). Songs start, go wrong, stop, restart, have explaination that this one is difficult, song ends. Genius. One of the songs, when recorded, will contain a trumpet refrain. Tonight, singer Huw simply makes the noises himself. The music itself is basically sixties psych pop with a kraut edge, it’s good, I’m tapping my feet and everything but it’s the ramshackle, unashamed fun they’re having onstage that makes the live experience so worthwhile. This joyous abandon nearly turns sour at the end when the crowd swells (students, daft hats) and the band feel they should maybe play another song, clearly Steve is thirsty and asks the crowd for beer. He’s given a pint by guy in hat that clearly has no previous knowledge of the band’s appetite for alcohol. The pint is swiftly knocked back and the now really pissed off hat wearer stands at the front giving the band the finger. Things could turn ugly.
Luckily there was a crack team of trained negotiators at hand. Strange News From Another Star’s Jimmy Watkins was first to try to diffuse the situation by barging past the irate young gentleman and according to some eye witnesses, call him ‘a cunt’.
“I was trying to draw his sting like my Dad taught me, I didn’t want him to hit little Steve” Watkins explained later.
Unbelievably this noble attempt at peace failed and hat guy followed the band outside. In turn, hat guy was followed by Jimmy, Islet, writers from both this website and this is fake DIY and some girls. Obviously this hardened gang of wool wearing indie ex-art students would put the fear of God into the angriest of beer deprived warm headed gig goers. Not this fella though, he continued his attempt to get across his perceived miscarriage of justice and legal right to be compensated for his beer to members of the Hawkline fraternity. This, despite renowned violent gym addicted lunatic Mark Thomas (Islet, Attack + Defend) mocking the way he walked and doing an impressively accurate impression of his sticky outy chest bravado. They were also various hat related jibes from the assembled twee crew.
Common sense began to win out when money was given to the young music fan, albeit mainly scattered on the ground of the beer garden, for him to buy himself a pint. At this point he decided this wasn’t the issue and had to be talked into taking it by his mate. “We came to see your band, no hard feelings” the UN peacekeeping trainee ventured. All, it seemed, would end well.
“No you fucking didn’t, you don’t even know what they’re called” – Mark Thomas. “What were they called? Come on. You don’t even know!”. Luckily, everyone was now a bit bored of verbal jousting and just wandered off to dust down their knitwear.
Apologies to actual music fans for the seemingly unfair percentage of this review given over to coverage of violent undercurrents. It was really fucking funny though, this shit doesn’t happen very often.
Oh, and I forgot to take photos so I just used Fenella The Kettle Witch.