Friday, 15 April 2011

County Hospital, My First Tooth, Not Made In China @ Champions, 15th April 2011

Tonight was a rare treat. It has been a long time since I have gone to a gig and thoroughly enjoyed all 3 bands that played.

County Hospital

As this band begin to play the first thing you think is, hang on, two bassists? But this worked surprisingly well and  created a very full sound, as the two bass's both copied and intertwined around each other. The stage composition of this band was strong, the weight of having two basses was made up for by moving the vocals off centre and therefore created a great band dynamic.

The band burst into their set and had energy flowing from every corner of the stage. Frontman Tim, pulled out some moves that brought to mind a mixture of Jack Penate and The Hives singer. He was a pleasure to watch all night and managed to keep my focus for the entire show. A great juxtaposition was created in the set by inserting slow and soft intros/interludes before flying into a fast punk fuelled section. This was mixed with some tight stops and breaks in the music between drums, bass and guitar.

The last moment of cleverness however came in the final number. Mid song all instruments switched with brand new members and all of a sudden we were looking at a new band playing the same song. This I found to be a great twist and an excellently unexpected way to end their set.

Aside from a few technical hitches during the gig - which the band recovered very well from - I enjoyed this set from start to finish.

My First Tooth

I don't see enough local bands with violins, harmonicas and mandolins, so My First Tooth straight away ticked a major box for me. The changes between these instruments created an ever changing melodic landscape that was interesting to listen to. As the band started to play we were treated to a refreshing and alluring lead vocal melody, with the violin filling out the sound perfectly. The band used vocal harmonies extensively, and for very good reason...they were beautiful, and showed strong mic control by singing at different distances for different effects. I was drawn in by these harmonies and thought that they suited the music, and that the music suited them perfectly.

The band were playing a mixture of folk/pop/indie music, which reminded me of a cross between, Johnny Flynn, Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses.  I noticed some strong musical techniques coming through in the music that really took it to a higher level, such as syncopated rhythms between the additional snare drum being played at the front of the stage and the drums. Also note worthy I feel were the counter melodies between the vocal harmonies at points.

I haven't been so impressed with a band for quite a while now, and I will definitely be hoping to catch this band again as soon as possible. If you haven't seen them yet, what are you waiting for?

Not Made In China

The headline act finished the night making it a hat-trick of great bands. The band opened with a fun and very tight melody between guitars and bass that let you know straight away the style and feel of the outfit. Throughout the gig we saw some pretty impressive playing and musicianship from all members. The band had an amazing approach to the show and were very professional throughout in their presence and how they interacted with the audience. We were treated to some comedic interludes between songs whilst the members tuned, rather than leaving silence, or hearing the horrible sound of a band collectively tuning aloud on stage.

The band played a range of different styles throughout their show. We heard some samba rhythms on the drums, and some ska on the guitars, through to some straight indie driven sections. I really enjoyed the use of time changes and dynamics that this band used, frequently shifting into a quieter half time section or slower interval, before charging back into an energetic segment with some playful lyrics sung over the top.  The guitars were very tight with the rhythm section, especially when the guitars were strumming away with some muted patterns, creating a great sound that backed up the magnificent drumming.  The lead melodies played on the guitars were very clean and well thought out, and seemed reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, with a similar tone.

My favourite song was a tune called 'The Rat Race' about being stuck in a dead end job. It was listening to this song when I began to realise that a lot of this bands lyrics seemed to have a social or political undertone, hidden behind the playful vocal melodies they were sung to.

The crowd loved the band, as did I, and as the set came to an end, we all demanded more. To which the group responded with a cover of Paul Simon - Diamonds on the soles of her shoes, which was a delightful ending to a great evening for emerging talent.

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