Saturday, 28 February 2009

Small Ideas @ Raynor Lounge 28/02/09

Small Ideas, the University’s ‘alt alt music’ society caters for anyone that finds themselves enthralled by genres labelled with either ‘post-’ or ‘math-’ as a prefix, ‘-core’ as a suffix, or any given a combination of the three. On Saturday evening, they showcased these tastes to the public, with a night the posters promised would bring ‘what needs listening to, not what the NME tells you to.’

First up are Worcestershire upstarts, Riding Giants, who, if you close your eyes, could easily be mistaken for Foals playing a set entirely comprised of new material. Considering how they probably match them in both technical ability and catchy tunes, this is by no means a bad thing. Highly recommended.

Following them are Wasp Display, whose garage punk doesn’t quite fulfil in their wake, despite the exuberance of their frontman. He climbs just about anything climbable, swings his mic with total abandon and occasionally batters his kettle drum. But the crowd tonight aren’t particularly impressed, perhaps the set is too early in terms of drinking time, as he has to ask them to ‘move forward, and make this feel like a gig’.

Next onstage are Northern Ireland alt rockers LaFaro, who have joined fellow countrymen And So I Watch You From Afar for their stretch across the UK. Their set is tight and delivered with a sense of humour you’d expect for the final night on tour, the band filling time between songs by playfully baiting the English.

Three-piece Great Eskimo Hoax are the closest the math rocker has to breezy summery pop. Their downbeat melodies, accompanied by gentle synths and clean guitars, fill the room with their melancholic lulls. This is all well and good, but perhaps not the best preparation for headliners, ASIWYFA, who put the rock into ‘post-rock’.

Far from being mere Explosions in the Sky clones, these guys replace some of the sombre slow-burn of the genre with an ounce or two of aggression, and this truly sets them apart tonight. Of course, the crucial atmosphere that is part and parcel of being a modern instrumental rock band is present, but there’s also sheer white-hot energy. This, by design, pleases punters no end. New single ‘Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate’ is a juggernaut of spidery rhythms, distortion and gang backing vocals and the perfect recommendation of their forthcoming full-length.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Golden Silvers @ Foundry 12/02/09

There’s no doubting that The Golden Silvers are cool kids. As part of the chic Hoxton set, they are known for running their monthly party, the somewhat cheesily monikered ‘Bronze Club’, whereby they invite their equally cool mates’ bands to play for the fashionable throng. Tonight they take to the Foundry stage all crushed velvet, big hair and excruciatingly slim fitting trousers.

However, we must let the music do the talking, and having won a place at Glastonbury last year via the organisers’ New Talent competition, expectations for the threesome run pretty high.

It is actually quite surprising to note that while they may be in with the hip crowd, their sound is less that of ‘the now’ and more of a homage to those of the past, most strongly evoking the psychedelia of 60s pop but also incorporating 80s and 90s influences in their particular brand of indie-disco. Think less MGMT, more Beach Boys’ harmonies meet Prince meets Blur’s charm. This mix is perhaps best characterised by the softly bouncing melody of ‘Please Venus’, perhaps the highlight of the set tonight.

This is the second time this academic year that the band have played Fuzz, requesting a return after enjoying it so much the first time round at the height of Freshers’ Week hysteria. It is clear that the band like to take the time to get out of their East London bubble. From behind a broad grin that emerges between each song, ‘This is the third time we’ve been to Sheffield…and every time it’s great’ gushes frontman Gwilym Gold.

And everyone seems suitably entertained. Small pockets break out into bouts of activity while most others contentedly nod in time. But alas, while the set was enjoyable, the floating love songs soon seemed to melt into one and wash over the crowd at times, not quite doing enough to keep it on its toes. So unfortunately, as charming as they were tonight, The Golden Silvers’ solid performance simply lacked that crucial sparkle to turn an alright show into a great one.