What is this, the widdly guitar bill of the year?! Since I can’t make it to ArcTanGent Festival this year a small part of it kindly came to Newcastle. All of these bands are booked to play the post-rock, post-punk, (post-everything really!) extravaganza and I’m sure they’ll pull in huge crowds.
First thing I noticed walking into the venue; the blokes outnumber women by a huge margin. Everyone is up close to the stage, the usual invisible force field around Newcastle stages is not here tonight, no hiding at the back. I suspect I may be among fellow guitar nerds tonight!
CHON are first up. I must admit, I don’t know much about this four piece from USA. So I did a smidge of research before the show and that proved encouraging. Reviews often comparing them to erm… Fall of Troy! Well a much more timid version, they focus on melody rather than balls to the wall rock.
They give us a super clean sound, as they lay off the effects which many in this genre tend to go overboard with. Super smooth jazz rock, with some impressive virtuoso guitar playing, the synchronised parts and tapping on ‘Bubble Dream’ (which I recognised from my research) were jaw dropping and gained a huge reaction from the crowd. It’s their first time in the UK. Audience is really into it. A very boisterous crowd for an opening band.
Their slick set clocks in at 30 minutes. Not sure if they could pull off a full set, I think it’d become too repetitive. They have a huge following; I’m left a little embarrassed that I’ve not come across them before. Oh well, every day is a school day!
Rolo Tomassi take the stage. Math-core Brits intrigue me after hearing many positives about their live show. They’ve not played here for about 2 years (and that passed me by somehow). At long last I get to witness the hype in person. Playing largely new material, their short set proves to be one intense range of musical styles, which on paper shouldn’t really work. But it does, bloody hell it does!
‘Funereal’ opens the show, the energetic, enigmatic front woman stealing the show; all eyes seem drawn to her and her magnetic stage presence. Hard-core style vocals with some lovely delicate parts mixed in to good effect. Singer Eva Spence is so softly spoken in-between songs, it’s slightly surreal and adds to the magic of their performance. It’s quite a bludgeoning experience. A wall of noise, quite hard to pick out intricacies of the songs, those clever little details and motifs but they are there.
During ‘The Embers’ the audience really starts to get into them and the mosh pit goes absolutely wild. This might be one of the best bands I’ve seen. I anticipated they would be great live. This exceeded all expectations. I was left speechless.
How do you follow that? This could be interesting! The crowd are total wound up and ready to go. Fall Of Troy enter the stage calmly and then head straight in to an explosive version of ‘Whacko Jacko Steals the Elephant Man’s Bones’.
Impressive sound for just a 3 piece they’re a very versatile combo. Mix of punk, hardcore, rock, math rock and virtuoso guitar. They’ve have been hugely influential for bands on this scene but escaped huge popularity. They are headlining the Academy 2 tonight, with a back catalogue such as theirs they really should be much bigger. Popularity injustices aside, the diehard fans turned up and they knew they’d get a great show.
“We’re a community here, right?” asked singer Thomas Erak. I giggled; this is as lively as a Newcastle audience will get on a Monday night. The pit was alive and bustling, yet the band encourages the audience to really let go and embrace they music.
The guitar playing is nothing short of heroic. Highly versatile, yet still having that punk edge which keeps of engaging and much less of a ‘show off factor’
It’s a night for musos and bedroom guitarists. All whom stare contently at the musicians on display. Talented bunch. If you aren’t into guitar then this is probably a gig you’re better off missing. For me it was a pleasure, I watched in envy wishing I could play anywhere near this calibre. I’ll stick to photos and the odd power chord strum!
They end the night on ‘Macaulay McCulkin’. I can’t help but feel ecstatic and yet sad that it’s over. The power of performance is noteworthy. They surpass the recorded sounds and inject a primal energy into the live show. Thank you for playing our little city. The sound is back on top form at the Academy. What a gig!
Bald, bearded, rock nerd with a serious photography habit. I can be regularly spotted at gigs around Newcastle; alternative, punk and and bit of metal. I've covered shows, tours and festivals around the UK.
I'm mainly known for my music photography project GJB Performance Photography, which ran from early 2012 to July 2015.
Now photoing for Blank Slate Creative Photography, based in Newcastle. Alongside covering shows for NE:MM.
Latest posts by Graeme Baty (see all)
- PREVIEW: Deathcrusher – Northumbria University – 28-10-15 - September 9, 2015
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