(first review by MWJ, second by Greendragon)

For the second time in a week I claimed the freedom of the press and blagged into a gig for nothing, not that I mind paying, especially when it costs a fortune to hire a venue like this, but there was a decent turnout anyway that must have recouped a fair bit. The chief inspector of promenades and myself blended seamlessly with the handful of mums and dads amongst the rest of the alternative school disco crowd and observed proceedings. 
Apologies to Tinnitus for missing their set but that’s the luck of the draw with early starts, I had travelled all the way from Leicester (England, that way) for this show, that’s my excuse.
Saw the last few numbers from Surreal, OK, kinda alt-rock-metal, steady pace, reasonably heavy music but with a clear vocal that gave it a more commercial sound. Well received by the crowd, but that was a feature of all the bands tonight, everyone seemed up for it.
Queens of the Stone Age T-shirt gave a big Scooby-doo clue to where Inferno (pic above) were coming from, and the stoner rock from the 3-piece was good. Cool riffs, enough variety in structure to maintain interest and a solid deep groovy sound. Vocals were strong although not sure American accent is a pre-requisite for the genre. A couple of songs had me wondering if they were actually QOTSA covers, fair enough if so but if not then maybe need to progress on in own direction, look to the Suns of Thunder.

Despite the dodgy name Emo on Sunday gave one of the better sets of the night. Tight, seemingly faultless, playing from the musicians, confident vocals from a girl that belied her fragile appearance, PJ Harvey or Avril Levigne? Their style again defied genres that I know, post punk pop alternative rock, all that sort of thing. A decent cover of Muse’s single-before-last had the kids going mental, there was also a short one of Blink182’s (hopefully) last including a guest guitar & vocal’s spot from one of Glen UK.

emo

This was the last place I’d seen XMS-3 some time back. They certainly seem to have become more competent in their playing and song-writing, and the dual vocal melodies are good. However pop punk is as pop punk does, and that’s nothing for me. So despite amusing lyrics and entertaining crowd interaction on “School can suck my c*ck” it got a bit tedious before the end. It was too much for the inspector as well and he went home to polish his truncheon. The overall sound seemed a bit flat tonight for them though which might not have helped.

xms

Finally, Glen UK (another dodgy name, though I can’t think of a better one). They kicked into their set with plenty of energy, and with a more ballsy sound. Nice grindy bass and interesting lead guitar picking, probably still the poppier side of punk or grunge but at least with some edge. Pistols and Red Army Faction shirts hopefully show sound influence unless it’s just image? Figured not much was going to change after half a set so left the happy mayhem on the dance-floor behind hit the road again, had some eggs that needed crucifying.

glen

Interesting and good to see that there seems to be a fair crop of bands emerging from Holyhead, which always seemed to be such a musical (and literal) wasteland previously. Maybe there has always been stuff emerging there but it’s only now that they’re actually getting as far as the metropolis of Bangor on their tractors thanks to the extended/improved A55. They certainly seem to be evolving to be musically adept and have stage presence at a young age, hope these early achievements spur them on to develop their own material and style in time. Back in the day I’d have been chuffed as proverbial to have played a gig like this and got the response these bands got, a boost to the confidence that investing your time in music can have its rewards.

Hendre Hall Bangor 07/04/04
Surreal – Tinnitus – Inferno – Emo On Sunday – Xms3 – GLEN UK

(Green Dragon)

Right here’s the idea. You get six bands, hire a hall and sell tickets to your mates, instant party. Sounds a simple enough idea. But anybody who’s ever tried to organise a live music night knows it not that simple. But done right and it’s one hell of a night.

So here I am traveling the beloved A55 from the Dragon’s Cave in Holywell to Hendre Hall nr Bangor during the early evening rush hour, to witness 6 of Anglesey’s young and hopeful. My first thoughts are, this is early! First band on stage at 7pm.. I arrive in good time about 6ish to be greeted by various band members, assorted girlfriends and “I’m with the band” guys, suddenly I feel old. Maybe it because I’m old enough to have fathered most of the present company, I don’t know. But that aside, there is already a buzz of excitement within the hall.

Doors open at 6.30pm and in streams what looks like an exodus from the fair isle of Mon by it’s music loving youth. Surely you can’t get all these kids in one room, supply with vast amounts of demon drink, pump loud and fast music at them and not get any trouble? We’ll see.

First band to hit the stage are Tinnitus, This 3 piece outfit with a front man who looks like Kurt Cobain’s younger brother, and unfortunately sounded like him too. I don’t know if this was intentional, but for me it took something away from their fine performance. A little too sound-e-likie for my taste, taking your attention away from the content of their set, as if you were watching a tribute band, which they clearly weren’t. Again a very young band, the singer only looked about 15, but his voice sounded more like 30, if only these guys would realise that simply standing on stage and playing your songs doesn’t qualify as a performance.

Talk about a quick turn around, no waiting half an hour for the next band here. Less than 10 mins after Tinnitus leave, Surreal take centre stage. from what I’m told by one enthusiastic friend of the band, “these guys are ferkin ace man”. In all fairness Surreal have only been together for a couple of month and it shows. They weren’t really a band, but four guys who just happened to be playing the same song, all be it with plenty of gusto. At first I had the feeling that perhaps the guitarist was very short sighted and thought the audience was at the side of the stage or perhaps he just didn’t like being associated with the other 3 guys as he spent the first 5 or 6 numbers with his back to them. But in the spirit of “let’s have a party” they whipped up the crowd quick fashion, setting the tone for the night. I think with a few more months of hard work, in whatever they use as a practice room and a couple of more gigs, they may have something more to offer.
But hey who am I to complain they’ve got the balls to stand up there and give it their all to a crowd who by now had warmed themselves on both the Hendre’s log fire and the evil Mr Jack Daniels.
At this point I look around to see a sea of fresh young faces, oh my god the place is packed out (for Hendre Hall). There must be over 300 people in here tonight and as per usual at this venue the court yard outside is awash with bodies, a scene that won’t go amiss in a trendy fashion shoot.

Third up we have Inferno. I feared for these guys. Not because they are bad or anything, quiet the opposite. I saw them a couple of weeks back in Holyhead and wondered how they would go down with a crowd who seemed to like their music served punk. Inferno rock. They make no apologies for the fact they rock. They are full on, in your face, hairy balled rock. Think 1970’s rock before Johnny Rotten had spat on a nation. Think of the days of guitar heroes. Inferno play the music I went to school with, and do it well. A full set of their own material. No three minute wonders here, this is a rock band. For the first time in ages I see long haired people shaking the dandruff onto the slate floor below. God I wish I still had hair. This is a performance. They hold the crowd in their clenched fist and rock ’til they drop. Like all good front men, Inferno’s demands your attention, he gives it large. What I really like to see are these guys on the same bill as Ethergy playing in Rhyl, to just to show people that loud, well played rock music has a place in today’s music. I’m sorry to see them finish their set but they have leant one of the most important lesson about playing live, don’t outstay your welcome and leave to crowd wanting more. We’ll see you again Inferno.

As I said at the begin of this review, tonight was organised on the idea of getting together local(ish) bands and having a party. Emo On Sunday are our hosts. Well Danny their drummer is the mouth piece, the organiser, the promoter and the general “I’ll do it” man for tonight’s shindig. This is what a lot of the gathered mass had come to see. It’s amazing, if your in a band you have lots of friends. And tonight crowd certainly came under the category of friends of EOS. Front by the lovely Mo, EOS play a mixture of their own songs and covers. I just hope they get more of their own material soon. Learn a little more stage craft. Not that Mo needs any coaching in that department. She smiles and sways, as she belts out Over My Head as an opening. The crowd lap it up. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s party time. The mosh pit has begun. Well it would have done if it wasn’t for a rather over zealous “stage manager” shining his “I’m in charge” touch into any face that dared to slam dance. But hey that’s what being young is all about. I still carry the scars from a Sister of Mercy gig almost 15 years ago. Angel to Go, bring screams of delight from the crowd. I’ve heard them perform this a few times now and it does stand out as one of their best songs. The crowd love it, but by now that’s to be expected, they love Emo On Sunday. It’s easy to make comparisons between new bands and established acts. Are EOS trying to be the new Avril Lavigne, I hope not and just as I’m thinking this they launch into one of the best piss takes of Sk8er Boy I’ve heard, it fast, it’s loud and it sux. Nah forget Avril this is more Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s guest vocalist time – Caleb front man with GLEN UK joins EOS on stage for a cover of Blinks I Miss You, not bad, but for my money, leave the covers at home guys. All in all EOS did a good job, they did what the crowd wanted. They pleased this old git, that’s for sure.

There has been a lot of talk about this next band. I know I started most of the rumours about them. Yes I’m biased, as I have the rather dubious honour of being their manager. Xms3 are here. Like I said I’m biased, but not that biased. I’m their fiercest critic. Xms3 are looked up to by many of the bands playing here tonight. Not because they are gods or anything but simply for the fact these guy work hard at what they do. For the first time tonight we are going to see a true stage performance. The energy of Xms3 hits you straight between the eyes. Opening the set with “Carry Me” it’s clear that the lads want to have some fun. For those here tonight who hadn’t seen Xms3 before it was something of an eye opener. Dan and Jake duel it out for front of stage supremacy. So what if Jake played in a different key to Dan occasionally, so what if Dave dropped a stick and play 8 bars one handed, so what if Dan was making the girlies at the front wet (or is that wet at the front?). This is Xms3. The die hard fans knew what they wanted and weren’t disappointed. A couple of new songs got their first public airing tonight and went down well. There were cries for Skool Sux (Crud’s fave) all the way through the set. “No way you guys were not playing it”, not until right at the end of the set that is, Jake turned his mic to the crowd and they obliged, the sound of a nations(?) youth in full voice “Skool Sux My Cock”. Still buzzing after Adam Walton played Ant Killer on his show Xms3 are gearing themselves up to 2 nights supporting thisGirl in May, and with a show like tonight’s they are going to give them a run for their money. Watch out for them too during July and August when they are touring along with the likes of EOS and our next band GLEN UK.

If earlier in the evening I was transported back to the mid 70’s with Inferno I was now watching 1978. My first ever night at the Electric Circus in Manchester watching 999 and The Adverts (except no Gaye Advert, my first love, tonight). GLEN UK are punk. Remember the Kit Kat advert, “you can’t play, you look awful, you’re going to go far” that’s GLEN UK. Well it’s not really fair to say they can’t play. They can, but they are not your most technically gifted bunch, but they make a good noise. Caleb, their eager front man knows what he’s doing, he just gives it his all. He couldn’t carry a tune if it was wrapped up in a parcel and strapped to his back. What he can do is sing. Sing like he means it. It’s not out of tune, it’s in GLEN UK tune. The band are tight, well rehearsed and now with a new full time drummer (Ash ex-Xms3) are showing signs of being ready to take on the world. Another guest vocals time (oh how I love seeing bands that know each other doing this and the crowd tonight love it too) Jake Xms3 joins them on stage and they let rip, GLEN UK, Jake and the crowd all in one voice with “kids’ aren’t alright”. GLEN UK bring the whole evening to a close, everybody has had fun. A special mention should go out to Huw Williams who did a fantastic job on the PA and mixed the sound, not an easy task with 6 bands, but the sound was crystal clear all night and I only noticed one mic feedback throughout all 6 sets.

Right here’s the idea. You get six bands, hire a hall and sell tickets to your mates, instant party. Sounds a simple enough idea. But anybody who’s ever tried to organise a live music night knows it not that simple. But done right and it’s one hell of a night. Tonight was done right. There’s a lesson to be learnt for all wanna promoters out there. Hendre isn’t the cheapest place to hire, you have to hire their security* (which much to my amusement included an ex-4Q member, these guys get everywhere), lighting and PA, get tickets and posters produced etc etc. All this was done, and done well and after everything was paid out, there was enough left over in the kitty to pay each band for their efforts.

As for trouble – *Just some idiot who broke into Hendre Cafe, stole a table and set fire to it. They weren’t even at the gig!!! Problem is though this was done with Hendre’s own security in attendance and the guys who organised the night got the blame and an effective ban from the place. Real shame – and I’m sorry but I think that sux big time.
As for feeling old, that was my paranoia, tonight Mathew I’m one of the kids.
As for enjoying it. Hell yeah.
Back to Holywell via Holyhead (don’t ask) and I climbed into my pit at 3am, and for the first time in years I realised why I got into this business in the first place, music is about the people, and tonight’s people loved the music.
I for one am looking forward to the next one (wherever it’ll be), at £3 per ticket well worth it

Green Dragon