(review by neil crud)
Is indie music going through an identity crisis? What is indie music? Guitar driven pop I suppose (Britpop). There is plenty of punk & grunge bands emerging happy to grind out their chords, but when it comes to indie the genre seems to find itself at a crossroads. The pop charts are cluttered with plastic acts manufactured to feed some exec’s cocaine habit & you know the majority of these ‘overnight sensations’ will be looking for proper jobs this time next year. The indie scene has taken time out after the surge of Oasis, Blur, Verve, Travis, Placebo, Radiohead, with these bands becoming mainstream acts. So the music is presently taking stock of itself & awaits the next uprising.
Keaf will argue that they are not an indie band. Pocket Venus are orbiting somewhere between planet indie & planet psychedelic. While Lapdog will have to hope that someone in London will take time out to stop having anal intercourse with boy bands & decide that Bradford is to be the home of this month’s music revolution. With those present tonight doubling that of the ‘prestigious’ Spear of Destiny show 3 days earlier, Lapdog played their 3-minute pop songs driven by guitars. Nothing wrong with the songs & should they be ‘A’-listed on Radio 1 they would most certainly be propelled toward the obligatory 15 minutes of fame that bestows so many acts now. This can either mean there is so much talent out there that they can be popular, or that the limited combinations of musical notes that go to make a tune have almost been exhausted. So now we are left with a lot of young bands going through the motions, hoping to get picked up along the way.
The walk from town to the Breeding Ground tonight had the potential to be tricky as the afternoons celebratory drinkers meandered through the streets having toasted the FA Cup. I remember having to run the gauntlet in my cream Armani suit when Liverpool lost to Utd a few years ago as wild west fist fights took centre stage in the streets, thankfully Rhyl doesn’t have an Arsenal supporters division.
Mention the Isle of Man & I see images of Mark Williams & Caroline Aherne in the Fast Show as the married couple (who were also brother & sister) sat outside their caravan.
’Hello, we’re from the Isle of Man.’ Keaf’s female vocalist Chrissy doesn’t look at all like that, dispelling those comic images (only she is from the fabled island, the rest are from Colwyn Bay). What Keaf did show was nerves – they were very nervous, a few butterflies will ensure you play tight, too many & you freeze. Keaf are a very tight unit, tighter than Steve Sync when it comes to paying the taxi fare & it’s my guess they could play their songs backwards. New bands (or the current crop of bands) don’t seem to realise that live entertainment is just that, it should be visually entertaining as well as aurally. I‘m not asking them all to dress in Ronald McDonald suits & eat babies but a little visual quality added can make a show all the more interesting. Rhys Mwyn of Crai Records gives young bands a video of The Clash to study on how to move & be on stage. Even something a bit more than,
’Thank you, this next song is called…’ (which most bands are guilty of) would go a long way. I always remember a band playing at The Bistro called It Might Be & the singer said,
’I love you all, thank you, I want you all to have anal sex with my nose.’
I’ve long forgotten their music but I’ll always remember that line. Unfortunately I will also forget Keaf’s music as even the version of Hendrix’s Stone Free lacked the spark needed to ignite their almost pub rock set. But they have age on their side & a step taken back & Dutch courage thrown forward can make all the difference to a live performance. That difference is people remembering you or forgetting about you.
Having successfully prized a minidisc from the Pocket of a Venus earlier this week I was disappointed to find there was only 7 tracks on it.
’The earlier stuff is crap,’ I was told. The disappointment slid away like freckles off an Italian’s face when I realised that this band are still in their infancy as a song writing unit. With songs this strong the potential of Pocket Venus is overwhelming. The last time this 5-piece band from Llandudno played here they managed to kick ass in a set dogged with technical difficulties. Seeing we have an anal theme running through this review I can say tonight, not only did Pocket Venus kick my ass, they also penetrated it without lubricating remorse before kicking it for a drop goal in the stadium of sound. You know you’re doing something right when even the soundman, a tortured soul who has sat through more bands than a pisshead has had kebabs, is nodding frantically in time to the music. It would be good to see a couple of the songs strung out with a long instrumental build up which I know musicians of this calibre are capable of, & maybe another with a hypnotic jam (hypnojam) outro of 3 or 4 minutes of pure sonic bliss. What sets Pocket Venus aside is their songwriting ability, they know how & when to deliver the killer punch.
I was going to walk home, but had to get a taxi having being knocked out.