Posts Tagged ‘exhilarating’

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s always good to be back at Wharf Chambers, and this actually my first visit this year. Since my last trip, the cost of a train from York to Leeds has absolutely rocketed. It wasn’t that long ago that an off-peak day return for the 23-minute journey was about eleven quid. Now it’s more than £17, plus booking fee. Pre-lockdown, late 2019, it was around £15. This is the cost-of living crisis and inflation in sharp relief. It may only be a couple of quid, but as a percentage, it’s substantial, and when you apply the same kind of increase to everything… My dayjob pay hasn’t gone up by anything like as much, and we know that rail workers’ wages haven’t. But the consequence is that I have to be more selective about what gigs I travel to attend, which means in turn lower attendance for live acts, and less beer sold by venues, and so on. Thankfully, with shows at Wharf Chambers, I can offset the travel costs with decent hand-pulled beer at £3.40 a pint. When was the last time you paid under £3.50 for a pint?

It’s not all about the cheap beer, of course. Live music is always about more than just the music, though: it’s about the whole experience, and Wharf Chambers is a great venue with a great vibe that hosts great bands, and there are two on tonight’s bill.

Fuzz Lightyear are infinitely better than their somewhat flippant name, which doesn’t particularly convey what they do. Sure, there’s distortion, but the guitars take second seat to busy, heavyweight drumming on songs that feature abundant tempo changes, and are weighty, and shouty. Post rock collides with Fugazi. I’m a sucker for the full tom roll rhythm, and the drummer absolutely nails it on the third song. There’s a dash of Trail of Dead in the mix, and the bassist’s manic eyes are as compelling as anything. It’s a solid set, with a lot of range, that sets things up nicely ahead of the headliners.

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Fuzz Lightyear

Deaf Kids start gently with something of an ambient intro. It’s dark, and they move as shadows. There are drums played with elbows amidst drone noise. And it builds… and builds… and then it bursts. And how!

The Brazilian trio aren’t your staple Neurot act: instead of slow-lugubrious, rust-stained metal, this is a band with a vibrancy and an energy that’s positively eye-popping. It’s as if they’ve bottled everything since the release of their last album, Metaprogramação and are finally letting it all out. The set feels less like a succession of songs than a continuous overall work. They play in almost complete darkness. Briefly, there’s a percussive break that’s almost a mellow conga, but then it builds again before it explodes. The set is punctuated by bursts of noise, and – additional djembe breaks aside – it sounds like there are two drummers… There’s just ss much percussion, and so much urgency, and so much energy.

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Deaf Kids

And I realise on reflection, as I relive the immense buzz of the show, that chuntering about the price of trains from York to Leeds is likely nothing compared to the effort of transporting a band from Brazil to play in post-Brexit Britain in a venue with a sub-200 capacity. Really, we’re spoiled. I can only hope we continue to be.

Christopher Nosnibor

The clue’s in the name: Bdrmm started out as a bedroom-based solo project for Ryan Smith in 2017, but soon transitioned to being a proper gigging band. Like so many bands, their progress was severely hampered by more than eighteen months of no live activity, something that seems to have hit bands in the early stages of their careers the hardest, since they rely on performing in grassroots venues and supporting larger bands to build their fanbase.

This was one of many shows that got booked, rescheduled, and rescheduled over the course of the last eighteen months, during which time they’ve maintained a steady flow of releases, including their debut album and an attendant set of remixes and a number of singles, which have clearly done no harm to their profile, garnering glowing reviews from across the spectrum from NME to MOJO via Line of Best Fit. The Fulford Arms, then – sold out, although still operating at reduced capacity for ticket sales – is pretty busy even early doors.

It’s an interesting demographic, too, probably around a 60/40 split of twenty-somethings and forty-somethings – which isn’t entire surprising given Bdrmm’s referencing of the music that the older fans were listening to when they were around the age of the younger ones.

Having just two bands on the bill works well – not only allowing time to ventilate the room between acts – but to give the punters and their ears a rest, time to recharge glasses without a crush at the bar, and an early finish. After so much time out, it might take some time to rebuild the stamina for late nights for a few of us, and for those slightly further afield, public transport isn’t what it was a couple of years ago (or more).

Manchester’s crush – another band who, having formed in 2018 have a lot of early-days ground to recover – are on first. I was pretty sure there have been other bands called Crush, and it was only later I recalled Donna Air and Jayni Hoy’s short-lived pop career and the early 90s project featuring John Valentine Carruthers (formerly of Siouxsie and the Banshees) and Killing Joke drummer Paul Ferguson . The young four-piece are nothing like either. The set makes a shuddering launch into mid-tempo post-rock shoegaze with two guitars. Their sound is reminiscent of melodic 90s indie with a dreamy style, but still some drive too. There’s lots of texture and occasional bursts of noise. They may be lacking that slickness that playing often develops, but they can really play, and the closer comes on like Dinosaur Jr being covered by Slowdive, and it’s ace.

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crush

Crackling distortion yields to a driving motorik riff to announce the arrival of Bdrmm, and it’s immediately apparent that they’re a cut above, and that any hyp is entirely justified. The sound is immense. The drums are half-submerged beneath a heft wash of guitar. It’s a dense, throbbing, shimmering wall of sound. The percussion is a mix of traditional and electronic drum pads, and everything comes together magnificently. New single ‘Port’ drops early as the third song and it’s a brooding synth-driven beast, part My Bloody Valentine, but probably more A Place to Bury Strangers. There’s all the reverb, and all the volume: in fact the sound is great, and sound man Chris Tuke gets a deserved shoutout from the stage during the set. Because while it’s nice on record, and all the comparisons to Slowdive and early Ride are entirely appropriate, live, it really needs to be heard – and felt – at organ-trembling volume.

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Bdrmm

‘Happy, is a synthy swirl meshed with a gritty bass, and as the set progresses, we see the band peeling off blistering sheets of noise. Bent over, guitars practically scraping the floor, they don’t only do shoegaze but they also properly rock out. Near the end of the set they treat us to an immense, slow-building crescendo climax worthy of I Like Trains.

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Bdrmm

They leave us overheated, breathless, and stunned by the sheer power of the blistering noise of the guitars that howl and melt. No way should we have been able to experience this in a venue with a capacity of around 130, and I rather doubt we will again. Bdrmm are a Brudenell band at the very least: they have not only the songs, but that indefinable ‘fuck yeah!’ quality that comes from the wild exhilaration of seeing a band who simply blow you away.

4th June 2021 (Knight)

Kids… every year they get younger, right? It’s a poor quip poorly executed, one that cropped up when I was teaching at a university as lecturers joked about how every year the students got younger. Bands who aren’t yet old enough to drink at the venues they perform tend to be met with an equal blend of awe and scoffing. Both are equally unfair: why should anyone assume that age is a measure by which any musician should be judged? Being wowed because of ability that’s advanced ‘for their age’ is as discriminatory as commenting on how a band from the 70s are still ‘good for their age’. It’s also a criticism of sort, as if they’re not actually good on their own merits.

So instead of either being wowed by their youthful talent or knocking them for being a bunch of millennials with an agenda, let’s see what this quartet consisting of Noah Lonergan (vocals and guitar), Amber Welsh (bass), Michael Barlingieri (guitar), and Harry Heard (drums) are actually about.

They speak for Gen Z, with songs about global warming and toxic masculinity to racism and corruption. And yes, we need bands with conscience, and we need bands who are politically engaged. THIS is how the future happens. Anyone who decries a ‘woke’ agenda and bitches about ‘snowflakes’ can fuck off, because we know they’re all middle-aged, middle-class white men with a comfortable platform from which to decry ‘cancel culture’.

Polarized Eyes met in primary school and came together as a band in 2018. Tom Robinson loves them, John Kennedy (Radio X). Jack Saunders at Radio 1 also rated their single ‘Real Boys’, and they will probably dig this too.

It’s just shy of two minutes of guitar-driven, there-chord punk energy that’s pure punk, coupled with the raw power of grunge. Ther’s some wicked reverb going on with the vocal, and Lonergan belts it out with real force – but there’s something more to his voice than that, masking it one you want to hear more of. It’s a rush. It’s also a straight-up killer single by any measure.

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