Posts Tagged ‘Hole’

Christopher Nosnibor

There are early starts, and early starts: when doors open at 7:00 and you arrive just after half past to catch the last song and a half of the first band, you know you’re in really early start territory. Not that I felt I’d missed out immensely with York four-piece Heartsink: what I heard was very much standard contemporary ‘alt’ rock, nicking riffs from Biffy Clyro and hair from A Flock of Seagulls.

I’ll confess that I didn’t fall in love with Avenoir the first time I saw them, which happened to be supporting Our Divinity along with Weekend Recovery in the summer. The tired rock ‘n’ roll clichés I observed then are no less tired three months on: the singer’s wearing the same knackered denim jacket with Ramones back patch and his jeans are rags. He lunges around the stage – and if he plants his feet any further apart, there’s a danger he’ll split straight down the middle – wielding his bass like a weapon as he affects a hybrid persona that amalgamates Glenn Danzig and Lemmy. Objectively, they’re not terrible: they’re just not nearly as good as they seem to think they are.

Avenoir

Avenoir

I didn’t fall in love with Pulverise on this first meeting, either. They’re quite a sight: a quartet with a sort of image but not quite, they’re a hybridized sports rock monstrosity harking back to c.1999-2001 with added unicorn horn. They’ve got plenty of heft, grunt, and chug, but sound so, so dated. They chuck in a Cypress Hill cover medley effort, harking back to the rock/rap crossover fad of the early 90s that gave us the groundbreaking but agonisingly patchy Judgement Night soundtrack. Still, by the end of the set, they’ve got a bunch of people pogoing hard down the front, and if the primary purpose of a support act is to warm the audience up for the main event, then Pulverise meet their objective in style.

Pulverise

Pulverise

Weekend Recovery have received a conspicuous level of coverage on these pages of late, but that’s by virtue of the fact they’re a cracking band worthy of backing. They launched their first post-album material, in the form of the EP In the Mourning (the video for which we proudly premiered here at AA) in London on Friday, and tonight is their hometown celebration of what’s without doubt their strongest work to date. Lori is (appropriately, I suppose, given the lyrics to the EP’s lead song) pretty much faced when I arrive, promising after-show shots (again) and I wonder how she’ll even be standing in three hours, but she’s not only standing but delivers one of the strongest performances I’ve witnessed to date. Should I worry about this? About the encroaching impact of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle on the day to day, or whatever? Nah. As a performer myself, I get it. It’s not life-damaging. Performing is hard, especially if it doesn’t come naturally. Tonight, she comes on on boisterous, grunge-diva form, and it suits.

The fact that the front rows are packed tight while the last band are still dismantling their kit speaks for itself in terms of the ardour of Weekend Recovery’s fans. Bands playing venues three times this size don’t receive attention of this intensity. I’ve long maintained that it’s better to cultivate a small but passionate following than a larger indifferent one. The former will attend every show, purchase every release. The latter, they’ll big you up, like your Facebook page and stream your stuff on Spotify. But as it happens, the venue’s looking pretty busy, which says Weekend Recovery are making it, achieving a larger audience who are also passionate.

They open by raiding the back catalogue up-front with a blistering ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’. A shot emerges from the audience before they even play the third song, ‘Oh Jenny’, and scribbling in darkness after four pints my handwriting descends into illegibility while Lori continues without missing a beat and the band pound and thrash solidly. I’m struck – once more – by just how good they’ve got in the last year. Having broken free of the shackles of their formative influences, Weekend Recovery hit their stride with the album and are seriously killing it now.

The difference between now and any time previous is that they’re confident enough about what they do to not care. By the mid-set landing of ‘On My Knees’, Lori’s lipstick’s smeared and they’re all sweaty messes, and it’s clear that this is a band playing hard to deliver maximum r’n’r (and that’s not rest ‘n’ relaxation). ‘Monster’ brings a dense, funk-tinged groove, and is a hook-laden standout, alongside ‘I Want to Get Off’, which really pounds and drives on this outing.

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Weekend Recovery

There’s a choreographed false ending with a rambunctious ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’ which prefaces the ‘encore’ of ‘Bite Your Tongue’, and with a couple of minutes before the curfew, they shoehorn in an unexpected back-catalogue raiding ‘Focus’ by way of a genuine and truly impromptu encore.

The band seem genuinely astounded by the reception, but they deserve it. And as the lights come up over the sticky black floor, the EP is well and truly launched.

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Christopher Nosnibor

The fact the word ‘fan’ comes from ‘fanatic’ is perhaps worth bearing in mind. A band can probably be considered to have achieved a certain level of fan appreciation when they see the same faces in the crowd at venues around the country on a given tour. As one of those fans who’s attended multiple (although never more than a couple or three) dates on a tour for several bands, I’ve found it interesting to observe how audiences in different cities react, and also how those reactions feed into the performance. And, of course, there’s a certain curiosity about a band’s consistency. And in my capacity as a critic, the same is true – although it’s fair to say that as far as my second time of seeing Weekend Recovery in a month is concerned, I’m attending as both fan and critic. Having just unveiled their debut album, their touring schedule has amped up considerably, with almost three months of dates around the UK now to promote it, followed by a cluster of festival dates in the summer.

But here are now, this does mean I’m playing compare and contrast with Leeds on a Friday night where Weekend Recovery are the main support, and York on a Thursday, where the band, with their origins down south and now based in Leeds, are headlining. It’s hardly like-for-like. Much as I love York and its music scene, there is a conservatism which runs deep in the city’s gig-going community. Local bands will fair ok, but any act from out of town who isn’t well-known will, more often than not, find there’s a lot of space in the room. So it’s credit to Weekend Recovery that while the place is far from packed, there’s a respectable turnout, especially given that it’s the week before payday.

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s my rage. Increasingly, I’ve come to respect and admire and enjoy bands comprising guys of or approaching middle age ranting about the mundane. They’re not all even a fraction as good as Pissed Jeans, but Paint Nothing, while endlessly ripping off The Fall up to 1983, occupy the same office-based miserabilist territory as Scumbag Philosopher. The singer’s wide-eyed intensity augments the spitting anger. The audience may be divided, but those who don’t dig these four shouty, balding midlifers ranting about stuff clearly haven’t lived.

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Paint Nothing

Brooders are probably young enough to have been parented by Paint Nothing, and probably were busy being born when grunge was all the rage. But having built themselves up as a live act with some impressive support slots and single release ‘Lie’ on Leeds label Come Play With Me imminent, the trio bring a finely-honed fusion of abrasive noise and not-so-abrasive melody. When they hit optimal heavy, they’re in the territory of Therapy? in collision with Fudge Tunnel, and the clean guitar sound, that’s awash with chorus and flange is lifted wholesale from Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’. At times they get pretty and it’s more indie than grunge, and with a psychey / shoegaze twist. There’s never a dull moment in their varied but relentlessly riffcentric set.

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Brooders

Last time I saw Brooders, it was supporting Hands Off Gretel at the same venue, so it’s perhaps fitting that Weekend Recovery’s front woman Lorin’s sporting a short dress, holed tights and knee-length white socks, passing a note to the now-classic 90s kindergarten whore look.

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Weekend Recovery

Their set isn’t radically different from the one in Leeds last month, and kicks off with a driving rendition of ‘Turn It Up’ which encapsulates the up-front grunge-orientated sound of the album, which marks a distinct evolution from their previous work. ‘Oh Jenny’ sees the titular character introduced as a ‘colossal slag’ after I’d chatted with Lorin before the show about the merits of ‘colossal’ and ‘massive’ as adjectives (we have a colleague who’s a colossal pussy; my boss is a massive cunt) and the set closes with ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’ as is now standard, and it’s delivered full-tilt and brimming with a balance of desperation and sarcasm.

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Weekend Recovery

In between…. Lorin may not pogo as much or appear as bouncy in general as the last time I caught them, but bassist Josh (wearing the same outlandish shirt as at the Leeds gig – not that I can comment on outlandish shirts) and guitarist Owen throw lunging, leg-splaying poses all over. But this isn’t mere posturing: they’re really giving it all the energy. And the crowd appreciate it. Did they get what they came for? Of course.

Christopher Nosnibor

“I’ve fucked my wrist – chipped a bone in rehearsal.” I’m talking to Dom Smith, drummer with Seep Away. His band are due on in ten minutes. Should he even be playing? He’s not exactly a gentle percussionist. But as he and the rest of the band take to the stage to Hole’s ‘Doll Parts’, it’s clear he’s adrenalized and up for going all out. Screamer Jay is kitted out in full mini-skirted drag and looking killer. Seep Away get harder, heavier, denser and louder with each outing, and tonight, Jay is even more manic and confrontational than ever, writhing on his knees among the front rows.

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Seep Away

Brooders might have a tough act to follow, but if it bothers them, they’re not showing it. They may be young – they certainly look it – but this power trio are solid as they come. They knock out some driving grunge tunes, which are dark, dense, and weighty, but also so much more. They pack in some neat and hooky melodies alongside the chunky, bass-driven noise: in many respects, they’re the quintessence of 90s alt-rock, and they know how to nail down a hefty Nirvana-inspired riff.

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Brooders

Hands Off Gretel have drawn a decent crowd, particularly for a Thursday night that’s blessed with beer garden weather. In fact, it’s a battle to get a decent spot down the front on account of the clamour of folks with their phones out, filming. It’s not hard to see – or hear – why: they’re a killer live band, who combine a raw, ragged energy with a musical tightness. And there’s simply no sidestepping the appeal of Lauren Tate.

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Hands Off Gretel

I’ve been criticised on occasion for commenting on the physical attributes of women in bands, because despite the fact I’m equally likely to comment on the physical aspects of a man in a band, it’s not really the done thing. But Lauren Tate doesn’t so much invite the eyes to focus on her, but demands it. If the powder-blue hot pants and matching top, accompanied by knee-high socks, is sort of cutesy-sexy, the heavy eye makeup, smeared lipstick and truly ferocious full-throated vocal is terrifying. It’s the perfect paradox of appeal and repel, the cheerleader slut who’ll murder you and play with the blood. This, of course, makes her the embodiment of the grunge style; the oppositional elements of quiet / loud, melody and discord, introspection and screaming rage. And the songs encapsulate all of this perfectly. Yes: let’s not forget the songs, or the rest of the band. Both are equally essential to the band’s appeal.

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Hands Off Gretel

Tonight, airing a set built around debut album Burn the Beauty Queen, the band positively tear into the guts of those songs, channelling every ounce of fury into those angst-filled aural assault. Dropping ‘Be Mine’ as the second track of the set, it’s a shuddering, full-on bass-led attack. ‘Bad Egg’ is served with a huge dose of venomous self-loathing, and ‘One-Eyed Girl’ is pure Live Through This era Hole – although unlike their forebears, Hands Off Gretel don’t sound ropey, and you can be pretty confident they’ll make it all the way through the set. And by the end of the set, everyone’s a sweaty mess, uplifted by the joy of catharsis.

Aural Aggro faves Hands Off Gretel return to York on Thursday and promise to bring with them a tidal wave of angry, angsty grunge rock.

They’re pitched as being ‘for fans of Nirvana, Hole and Alt Grunge’, and it’s an accurate enough summary, as their debut album Burn the Beauty Queen evidences in spades. But what it doesn’t really convey is just what a killer live act they are, and in Lauren Tate they have a real star in the making as their focal point.

Support comes from Brooders and the mighty (and seriously noisy) Seep Away. Needless to say, we’re fans.

There’s more info, including ticket links, at the Facebook event page. See you down the front!

 

 

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Christopher Nosnibor

It’s an interesting demographic spread in the Fulford Arms tonight, almost evenly split between middle-agers and young alt types. This will make perfect sense to anyone who’s already heard Hands Off Gretel: founded and fronted by 19-year old Lauren Tate, they’re the sound of youthful angst, raw and brimming with rage and entirely relatable to their peers. Their sound also bears more than a passing resemblance to early Hole, and in Lauren, there’s the wild energy of late 80s / early 90s Courtney Love that’s instantly recognisable to those who remember that far back. I’m conflicted: downcast at being reminded so starkly that I’m now in the middle-age camp, elated that I was there the first time around and also that there are young bands with this much passion and this much gut making music that’s real and fearless.

Humble Scoundrel kick things off and while they’re also young, they’re also seriously good. They’re fronted by a guy who looks kinda nerdy in his specs, but said front man is renowned Leeds band poster / flyer / t-shirt etc. artist Tommings, and they’re no flappy weaklings: the plaid-shirted power trio kick out a decent brand of rocking indie with some strong harmonies and some elastic 90s alt/rock basslines whacked through a BigMuff and cranked up to gut-churning levels to give them something special. The lead vocals are poppy, but countered by some crunching guitars. Somewhere around the mid-point, they drop a ‘quiet track. It’s built around a gothy Celtic guitar line over some thumping martial drumming, and it brings some well-placed variation in a strong set, and the between-song banter is genuinely amusing.

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Humble Scoundrel

It’s been just shy of a year since I last saw Seep Away play, and they’ve come on no end in the intervening months. Tighter, louder, more in-yer-face, it’s their increased confidence that really makes the difference, and this – and a triangle – is what drives their full-throttle bass-driven grindpunkthrash racket. Jay Sillence raves and lurches around like a man possessed, while the musical proponents of the band – Max Watt (guitar, backing growls), Dani Barge (bass) and Dom Smith (drums) – give it their all. I’m always drawn to bands who pour in every last ounce of energy into a performance, largely because it’s indicative of their passion and commitment, and to see a band who sound great but are clearly coasting just doesn’t provide the same excitement. That Dom’s on the brink of exhaustion by the last track, but powers through at a hundred miles an hour tells pretty much all you need to know about the frenetic force of their live assault. Carnage of the best kind.

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Seep Away

There’s a crush for the front at the little low-staged venue for Hands Off Gretel, and it’sno surprise: while their aural assault is quite something, they’re a live band you need to see as well as hear. Lauren – dressed in hot-pants and ripped tights, a tiara nestled in her long dreadlocks and ‘BURN’ scrawled onto her chest in makeup – is high-kicking and hollering hard from the start as they tear through a set which showcases the majority of their incendiary Burn the Beauty Queen album.

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Hands Off Gretel

Every track is a highlight (although I’m personally pleased to hear ‘Bad Egg’), and while Lauren is obviously the focal point and an immense presence on stage – not to mention a singer of immense power, with a terrifying, full-throated holler, and to describer her as a compelling performer would be an understatement – it wouldn’t work if they didn’t operate as such a cohesive unit. Hands Off Gretel are a band, an a strong one, who really work the quiet/loud dynamic, and when they break out into the chorus riffs, they really give it.

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Hands Off Gretel

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Hands Off Gretel

By the end of the set, the stage is awash with beer – on account of numerous spillages and the fact Lauren has a tendency to cool herself by pouring it over herself – and perspiration. Lauren’s makeup is smeared, and after a racketous rendition of ‘Oh Shit’, they don’t bother to leave the stage before encoring with a killer one-two of ‘Eating Simon’ and ‘My Size’. When it comes to blistering intensity, Hands Off Gretel have got it nailed, and judging by tonight’s turnout, there’s a real thirst for their brand of angst-laden rage.

Aural Aggro favourites, female grunge trio The Kut, are supporting the release of their new single ‘Bad Man’ with their most extensive tour to date, taking in a whopping 37 dates. Yes, that’s ovr month of shows. And they’ve unveiled a video to accompany the single release. Watch it here. Go see them.