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: http://birthmark.bandcamp.com/
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.