Sunday, May 30, 2004


... and surprising to see 4 good bands on the same bill... After the horrors of that band showcase we attended at the Zap a couple of months ago the Totally Wired / Brighton Rocks event at the Komedia on Friday night was a reassuring reminder than not every band in Brighton is consumed with teenage angst. Further, we saw four bands with a bit of imagination.

The first, Turncoat, were reminiscent of Interpol and BSP, but not so much to make them a bore; their songs were a little odd and at times ambitious, sometimes introducing charming piano riffs and peculiar harmonies, though also resorting to a quiet-loud-quiet-loud formula which they would do well to dispense with. But that said I am famously intolerant of unnecessary loud bits and they would do just as well to ignore me. I don't think I'd buy their records, but they were promising.

Oom I like very much, beautifully programmed clunks and whirrs, guitars and the kind of blissy, engaging vocals which the likes of Lamb have made almost over-familiar: no disrespect to Oom, who did it very well.

One kind of wishes that the floodgates for trip-hoppy, glitchy pop music had not been opened so wide that so many inferior, coffee table acts got through - it dilutes the effect of the style when it is done properly. At their best (usually when the electronics took the lead), Oom were at least as good as any of the post Bjork, post Portishead contenders. Their set was about ten minutes too long, though.

La Momo are the most exuberant and fun band to watch; they seem to enjoy themselves. I always do too; their set is simple, insistent, peculiar and memorable. I keep thinking of the Residents' peculiar harmonies as their songs whizz along. La Momo are the first band I've ever wanted to join on backing vocals.

The Komedia (upstairs) is a really nice venue; perhaps the nicest of its size in Brighton (certainly an improvement on The Pressure Point and the Pavilion Theatre). The series of Brighton Rocks nights have been, I gather, quite a success, and I can see why. The final band of the night, Waxed Apple, were really super-engaging; no more bad indie haircuts, no more harmonies, and lots of fun with violins, cellos, huge drums, lurching bass and edgy electronics. Sampling themselves as they went along, delivering dizzy dub workouts or - once - an electrifying piece of instrumental hip hop with chilling RZA-style piano chops, they opened with the best couple of tracks I've heard live in a long time.

As the set progressed they seemed to wind down a bit, or perhaps I just got used to their unpredictable set-up and wanted more surprises, but they have the essence of a unique sound. Veterans of the Gravity newsletter reports of a previous show...

"They went all experimental on us. No drums, no violin and a new member with a bad, bad hat. The set started with nearly ten minutes of multiple seconds long movie dialogue snippets, each referencing the current war in Iraq. Added to that were locked grooves on a turntable playing Asian harps, chanting and birdcall; and live vocal sampling. It seemed like a completely new set; harsher, more effects, less laid back".

Without being able to tell you exactly what to expect, then, I recommend them...

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