(review by chris markwell)
It’s 10 o’clock on a Tuesday night in Bangor. End of the month, money growing thin in many people’s pockets, but Embassy nightclub is open to the public. Open, and free to enter (if you’ve got yourself a Yellow Card from the nearby Yellow Pub). Thankfully, for my bank account, I have one, as do the friends I’m with. So in we head.
We’re here tonight to see Vices, a band brave enough to play at gig at the end of the month, on a Tuesday, with only the bare minimum of publicity. As I look around inside Embassy cavernous expanse, I count only eight people there at the opening of the doors. And that includes the three band members. I’m starting to rethink using the word ‘brave’ at this point.
This is only Vices’ second gig. Their first was with my band, Bad Excuses, at the Belle Vue pub in upper Bangor. This is quite the leap from playing in the local tavern, but frontman Llion Hughes is upbeat about tonight. After all, the real fun’s in the playing.
As the night rolls on and the punters start coming in, I notice what a broad spectrum of people Embassy’s ‘Rock vs Indie’ nights bring out: from barely-old-enough scene kids to brawny gym beefcakes, pretty much every demographic is represented. It’s an eclectic mix of people to say the least but, when the DJ drops the music and Vices start playing, all of them nod their heads as one.
Considering their surroundings, Vices aren’t afraid to kickstart proceedings with one of their own songs, even receiving a smattering of applause in doing so. Not a bad start. In fact, all their songs go down well tonight, especially their grunge-crunching explosion of emotion ‘I Hate Myself’, a tune so raw it would make Kurt Cobain himself go: “Now THAT’s dark”. My favourite song of theirs, and a real treat to hear live.
For the audience that’s grown to over 50 people, the true highlight of the night comes when Vices play their adrenalin-pounding rendition of Feeder’s ‘Buck Rogers’, which fills the dancefloor up to capacity with all-singing, all-dancing revellers. One look at talented bassist Dylan Roberts says it all at this point: a big, confident grin. Please check out Embassy’s Facebook page for the photo: this grin seriously has to be seen to be believed. Vices brings their first set to a suitable close with the first song they wrote together: the aptly-titled ‘Epic’, which leaves the audience breathless but hungry to hear more.
The second set from Vices is just as explosive and emotive as before, with one exception: the surprise cover of the camp-as-your-uncle-dancing ‘Time Warp’. Although well done, the people around are (mostly) not nearly drunk enough for those types of musical shenanigans; but, hell, you cannot say these guys lack confidence. Plus, with those wild eyes glaring at you, it’s hard not to obey Llion when he tells you “it’s just a jump to the LEFT!”
This is only a minor setback though, and it turns great again as they rip through Silverchair’s ‘Freak’ as though the song were a tree and Vices were a chainsaw. Drummer Gwion Griffiths hammer down on this (and all the other songs too) with an almost inhuman fervour. Let’s all be thankful he’s a mellow guy when he’s not behind that kit of his… their final set ends with another round of ‘Buck Rogers’ which gets the audience back up and energised, and, when Vices finish up, they get a resounding cheer and applause. Well deserved too, guys.
If people don’t know the band members personally, it’s very difficult to get others to come to local gigs. It’s very good of Embassy to take a chance and allow a band to come and play in their venue. Hopefully this will open the doors to more nights like these being held: after all, with no real promotion, a band on their second gig managed to get over 50 people up, dancing, and having a great time.
Vices are a young band, and they’ve got a bright future ahead of them if they stay as brave as they were that Tuesday night: when money was tight, and the crowd sang along:
#I think we’re gonna make it, yeah…#