So I came to this one on the strength of recent reviews of The Stilletoes and it turned out to be quite an eclectic evening with themselves not necessarily the pick of the bunch, even though the celebration of their album release on Ankst brought this all together.
It was reasonably busy out in Bangor, the summer kicking in maybe, although there did seem to be a lot of underage bring yer own alcopops drinkers too. One girl asked if I was actually enjoying myself but while assuring her that my perpetual grimnity was intentional what was really making me sad was that I was old enough to be her dad.
Reports of his demise being exaggerated, Mr Presli was by himself with his semi acoustic running through some numbers that held a variety of emotions, some rocky, some melancholic and ending up with a Ray Charles cover. He did seem to have been resurrected suspiciously resembling the former KAFC front man (with a Mohican) and this provided a good ice breaker for the evening.
Irma Vep went under another name for the evening as their experimentalism previously encountered over in Menai Bridge was supplemented by the renowned instigator and discombobulator Alan Holmes on bass. The building, looping guitar layers and drum patterns drifted in and out of interest but were detracted from in my opinion by random wailing over the top.
Son Capson demanded attention though, in the same way that you’ll initially keep a wary eye on someone with a bit of a mad stare and hyperactivity at the other end of the bar from you. Only for them to turn out to be a very entertaining and amusing proposition once you’ve had a couple of jars. Supplemented with a rhythm section for live, the main man is singing and sitting behind his keyboard which provides surprising blasts and waves of power as well as a whole load of ragtime. There’s a large slice of surreal in/sanity in the lyrics and with some excellent chanting chorus they come across as a mix of Mr Bungle and Gogol Bordello and definitely something fresh for me
The sheer concept of drum and bass may put some people off but I Am Austin deliver it in the traditional two piece rhythm section way. Set up side-on facing each other I joyously welcome the Rickenbacker bass distortion and the insistent beats. Far from some industrial noise-core though, the clear vocals from the drummer and the generally catchy tunes give it a cutting edge pop feel closer to the likes of Franz Ferdinand or some nu-rave act. I am largely ignorant to these genres but the quality from just the two of them is fantastic and provokes the best crowd reaction of the night.
The headliners keep the crowd up close, to the extent it’s hard to spot front woman Efa in the midst of it all. You certainly can hear her though, as her raw yet melodic tones cut through and ultimately come across as the strongest element of the band built around her. Or maybe she is the difference in what swings between rough and ready charged delivery and some run of the mill poppy punk, the three piece still potentially finding their own out of a saturated and constrained genre. As a young band I wonder if the every ready Welsh media culture hype is advancing them ahead of their natural development, as the playing is not very tight. Things dissolve somewhat further at the end when she sings a couple of numbers with just her sitting on the floor playing her guitar with friends sitting in front of her which is cosy and maybe a further illustration of their informality. Everyone’s happy with that though so if they can continue to deliver for this support they should go well.