Saturday, 29 January 2011

Valhalla Pacifists, Murder of Crows, Post Fata Resurgo & The Afternoon Gentlemen @ The Packhorse: Jan 27th

I'd been hyping up the Post Fata Resurgo/Murder of Crows/Valhalla Pacifist show at the Packhorse for more than a week, so when the 27th finally arrived I was brimming. I'd invited some friends to come with me so I was pretty hyped, normally I go to shows alone because most people aren't really down for it. I've never heard any metal live, so I was pretty intrigued as to how it would turn out. I'd been listening to Valhalla Pacifists stuff a shitload too so I was pretty excited to see them, some messy hardcore was exactly what I needed. I was just yearning to be able to think 'FUCK IT' and run headfirst into a sweaty, thrashing pit. Ever since my first hardcore show I've found myself craving it at times, the stress and boredom of living just gets to me and shows are one of the best outlets of frustration... along with skating and wanking (to an extent).

So unsurprisingly, most of the dudes I'd planned on going with couldnt make it because they were too baked and lazy, so it was just me and my homie Chris, which is always spell for a good time. We got there a bit late due to having to wait for the dudes who couldn't make it, and to my dismay we fuckin missed Valhalla pacifists!! Such a bummer. Anyway, we got there in time for Bristol trio Murder of Crows. Straight away I started feeling a bit intimidated, I guess partly because I was wearing a bright blue Maps and Atlases band shirt beneath my hoodie, and majority of the crowd was in a black, metal band shirt. But after a while I stopped caring and focussed on the music. MoC were pretty heavy, super fast drum beats and some messy raw vocals, the bass hit hard too.. I liked that. To be honest I'm not that into metal, I guess I find it harder to dance to because there isn't as significant a breakdown as there is in hardcore, so its a bit hard to keep with the beat.. It could just be in the way I move, as i try to follow the drums as closely as possible, and trust me.. it was fuckin hard with murder of crows (and post fata), that drummer was insanely fast. The crowd was alright, I was hoping for a pit but I guess the exhilaration wasn't high enough at that point. 
(** It turns out MoC are not really metal, more grindcore/punk, but I don't really know how to classify bands anymore, so I'll just stick with what I know)

 After MoC, Post Fata Resurgo (from Italy) came on. The band had a similar pace/sound to MoC, except with more complex riffs and vocals. It was awesome to see a foreign band playing, although they may not have had as welcoming a reception as back home, the crowd was definitely appreciative of their music. I came to England with a preconception that everyone was ignorant of other cultures and extremely discriminant (from bad past experiences), but the more I experience the more I've come to understand that that is a really unwise and short-sighted way to think, as the people (and the music scene) in Leeds are some of the most welcoming I have seen.
Post Fata
The last band, who weren't mentioned until the last minute, were a group of local dudes called The Afternoon Gentlemen, who, as accurately pointed out again by Chris, appeared very "civilian". But fuck that, the moment they hit the speakers I knew they were the real deal. The fastest beats of the night. Screaming, wrenching vocals, and disorientating guitars.... gaaaahh FUCK I needed that so bad, the pit was nuts right from the first song. I got in for the first bit, but I pussied out a little after I was shouldered in the forehead with a metal stud, so I hung around the peripherals of the circle whilst Chris got in the pit. It got me pretty hyped to see him in there, he's a folk-boy, so to see him enjoying himself at a grindcore show was awesome. There was something preventing me from getting in the pit, some invisible barrier which was filling my head with fear of getting hurt, fear of falling down. Towards the end though, I couldn't contain myself and my naiive pussyfooting.. I had to get in there. They announced their last song, and that was by far the best song of the night. I completely lost it, and I'm pretty sure a lot of other people did too. Every smashing cymbal and slicing screaaaam coming from the singer’s voice hit me so deep, I was spinning in circles, falling to the ground, being hurled back up by unknown arms, falling back down again. I felt so fuckin alive. Fuck pussying out, I pussy out of a lot of things like that and I just end up feeling stupid. To be completely unaware of your actions but know that everyone is there to help you out.. thats awesome.

The whole time I was there I never got a stink eye or any judgmental comments. It further proved to me that I can't judge people solely on their appearance, and more often than not, the people you least expect to be friendly are relaxed as fuck. I know its a pretty rudimentary life lesson, but as much as people like to think they know it, they really don't. I've seen so many "open" people throw down the most judgmental comments on people who look remotely different. Its pathetic.

Hardcore/metal/loud fuckin shows aren't as bad as people might think they are. Its just the idea of experiencing something completely foreign and out of the comfort zone which prevents people from trying it. And that feeling of satisfaction, pure unadulterated satisfaction (not to mention a killlller falafel sandwich) which follows, is incomparable. It always leaves me in a pretty philosophical and mellow mood..

I was recommended a website by a dude from Valhalla Pacifists, its about the hardcore/metal/emo etc. scene in Northern UK. - Check it out if your interested in seeing some shows!

Here are the band's myspaces that played

I’ll upload some photos too – at a couple of points some dudes tried building a human pyramid. Pretty funny, especially when it all fell down into a mini pile-up. Gooood times!

Afternoon Gents

The pyramid - killer butt cracks!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Beards, Nope and In Zaire @ The Packhorse. 14th January, 2011.

My farts have been pretty disgusting over the past few days, the intensity of the stench is really out of character. Pretty eggy, but theres something so pungent deep within the abyss of stink and I just can't put my finger on it... They are so bad that the when I was skating through uni with my friend Chris before the Beards/Nope/In Zaire show, he could smell them when riding about 10 meters behind me. He seemed pretty impressed though so maybe it's not something to be ashamed of after all. I was a little nervous getting into the Packhorse though, but we were there pretty early so I had some time to let a few out before the crowd got any thicker... Strategic farts can be quite challenging, I guess that's one reason to look forward to getting older, it'd be nice to fart on demand like my dad, its a pretty awesome ice-breaker at parties.

Anyway, after I cut one of the biggest farts of the night, Beards started getting ready for their set. It was my second time to see them, the first being at the Birthmark gig, and it's always nice to hear songs I recognise, that way I can get a bit more technical with my moves... And being able to sing a line or two definitely ups my cred on the underground knowledge scale, all you posers can suck it!!
Just kidding.. They started off with spinning coin, the only song I could recognise, and it definitely got the show off to a good start. The Packhorse is a perfect venue for the band, because the close-proximity really gives you a better understanding of the efforts each member puts in to their music. At the Brudenell I was kind of far away, but this time I could see the sweat on their foreheads and feel the fast pace of their breathing. And best of all, I had no fart alarms! I was kinda bummed they didn't play So de do de ku, but it's no big deal. One thing I've come to realise about Beards is that they are a performance band. Their recordings definitely don't give justice to how epic they are live. Check their fuckin myspace already! See that? They've got two shows in February, GET ON THAT SHIT.

After a bit of a break, three-piece 'Nope' got set up and ready to play. After a somewhat slow/building intro song, they started getting into it, the guitarist playing and looping riffs which seemed quite simplistic, something most people could think of in a jam session. However, the addition of another drum set (and drummer) definitely brings the intensity of their sound up. I was drifting in and out of conscious thinking throughout the set, at times getting completely entranced by the repetitiveness of it all. It’s like I became so used to hearing a certain rhythm that it just became engrained in my system, and my body would start to move without me telling it. I found myself pinching my chest at one point, not really sure how my hand ended up there. The climaxes weren't as epic as I'd expected them to be, but seeing as the entire set was one song it made a lot more sense in the long-run. And then it ended. It seemed to take a few moments for people to come-to... I'm not even sure how long they played for, it could’ve been up to 20 minutes.. I have no fuckin idea really. A pretty unique experience for sure.

Then came on 'In Zaire', fortunately most of the building fart pressure had subsided during/after Nope so I had less to worry about. The set up was a typical drum, bass and guitar, and instead of a usual mic set, the frontman had some synth system linked up to the guitar and bass. I could tell after the first minute that this band was in a more left-field spectrum, with an almost experimental jazz beat at times, as if the members were slowly but surely finding the beat amongst themselves. It got pretty hectic at the points of climax; the band definitely used the amps to their full potential. I think overall, the band wasn’t as great as the other two before it, but their performance left me in a strange state of… profundity. I would’ve gladly stood staring into space after they left their instruments had my friend not tapped my shoulder. There was one point where the singer shoved a small microphone into his mouth, blowing and screaming into it, creating a really distant yet magnificent sound. I think part of the fun of going to shows like these though, is that I have little to no idea what to expect from most artists, so there's always an element of hit-and-miss, but I like most bands I hear live so maybe I'm not the best person to judge.

Overall, it was definitely worth it, I was a bit disconcerted at first because I could have easily gone home and revised, but fuck it I’d already paid my 4 pounds. My emotions have been up and down these days anyway so a show is always a good way to take my thoughts elsewhere. To sum it up, Chris made a pretty accurate observation; it was a pretty drum-orientated night. In my opinion all 4 drummers killed it; it got me pretty hyped to skate afterwards. There’s nothing like bombing down Royal Park Road with your ears still ringing from the volume and your sphincters sighing after a much needed fart…

Check out their myspaces:


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Beards, Juffage and Birthmark @ Brudenell Social Club, 10th Jan 2011

The night started off with Beards, a band on the local scene I've always heard about but never witnessed. I recognised the guitarist from another band called Cissy, a fast-paced bouncy post-rock-electro-pop insanity group. The pace was almost similar at times, but the power and presence of the two pretty badass chicks on drums and bass added a way heavier, messier sound, but still quite upbeat at the same time. On top of the awesome riffs, both girls took turns to sing, yell, or scream... and I could feel the fierceness and raw energy in the drummer's face everytime she smashed the snare and everytime the bassist pulled on a string.. it was rad. And they do a shitload of shows in Leeds too. I can't wait to see them again, they fuckin killed it! The only downside was the limited crowd, if there were more people I would've totally been down to mosh. Even just a little pushy pushy...

I have to mention, I've found my new favourite accompaniment for shows; coke. But, it has to be from a glass bottle. After a bottle of that shit I was so down to dance. Fuck beer, that just weighs my stomach down and makes me fart. Only downside of coke is that I can feel my enamel slowly wearing away… but so are my ear-drums so I guess that somehow balances out. Maybe they’re eroding at similar rates, so that the weight distribution isn't uneven?

After Beards, the infamous yet underrated one-man-bander known as Juffage took the floor, after a bit of mandatory wire untangling and plugging in-ing. I've seen him once before, but it was too crowded to see what he was doing. This time I had full view, it's almost entertainment watching him flip all these random lights and switches. I have to say though, he is probably the most co-ordinated multi-tasker I've seen in a long time... It blew my mind watching him smash up that drum set so precisely with one hand, with the other pressed down on the keyboard in perfect tone.. and to top it off the fucker was singing!! There was a point of confusion when he bust out 3 old-school stereos playing some unintelligible static noise, which he then placed around the room, and one in the pub next door, but like all his songs, every noise and every movement has a purpose which you undoubtedly discover later in the set. He ended with a pretty sombre tune for his style, but somehow it was a fitting end to a fucking crazy set.

So it came to the headliners, a band from the States called Birthmark. To be honest I didn't have much of an idea of how they sounded except for a few clips off their website, all I knew was that the lead singer (Nate Kinsella) is related to Mike and Tim Kinsella (American Football, Joan of Arc, Owen etc etc.) ... which, pardon my typecasting, is a pretty sick bloodline to be a part of. So Nate came on, looking kinda dazed but with a faint smile on his lips. After a few opening words and a couple taps on his mini xylophone, he came to mumble something about too many beers, and everyone began to smile too... I have to say, the music was pretty beautiful. Nate was pretty giddy whenever he was talking, but the moment he started playing/singing, you could tell he was totally encapsulated by the music. It would have been nice to hold onto a girl at times (fuckin cheesy I know), but after a while the music's atmosphere began to sink in, and I slowly began to not give a shit about anything but the sounds flowing into my brain. This was one of the first shows of a band I've never seen before where I've actually tried to pay attention to the lyrics and understand what the singer is saying. You should try it some time; everything makes a lot more sense.
One of my favourites was about balloons, and as I just found out, is off the new album and is aptly named "Balloons". I think the part of the song that hit me the most was the lyric "its hard to be an anchor, when you've always been a balloon". May sound cheesy but fuck you I don’t care, if you were at the show you probably would've broken down in tears like a whiney little baby.
One highlight was the arm-wrestle. Earlier on in the show, Nate somehow came to challenge some dude at the front to an arm wrestle, and to everyone's surprise they actually did it - midway through the set. It was pretty awesome, like a battle royale between the USA and the UK.. and, I'm sorry to upset all you patriotic Brits reading this but, YOU LOST!! The loser did have an excuse however, claiming Nate had the unfair advantage of "drummer's arms". But to be frank its not much of an excuse - I'm pretty sure the loser had a serious case of "chronic-masturbater's arms".
I also give props to their bassist/drummer/clarinettist/violinst… that dude can play a lot of instruments very well. Overall the music was really soothing, it put me in a nice sway at times, and at others it made me put my hand against my lips in a contemplative fashion. Some people may like a crowded audience, but for this band a max of about 30 people was all it needed to be perfect.

Anyway, after the last song I got to talking to the guitarist (not sure about his name), and Nate and his wife, who played on the keyboard. They are all super nice, approachable people, and that just added the extra justification I needed to buy their CD from the merch table. Overall - a fucking awesome night, if you ever get the chance to see Birthmark play I say take it! And if not, that sucks but you can always buy their music online. Their newest album is called "shaking hands", check it on their website:

And here are the myspaces of Beards and Juffage:

PS: The next day I went to a café near home and they all happened to be there too. It was pretty cool and unexpected, and they were all still as friendly as the night before, despite looking kinda lost and exhausted. And for any current or potential stalkers, the bassist likes crushed black pepper in his scrambled eggs.