Rolo Tomassi electrify and inspire at London’s Scala

If one thing was made clear from this gig, it’s that headlining Scala in London was a special moment for everyone in Rolo Tomassi. As the band’s biggest lead performance to date, they used this golden chance to deliver a set that was both emotionally stirring & delightfully high-octane in equal measure, and after roughly 60 mins of vigorous performing, they managed to perfectly explain what makes them one of the most ambitious, artful & biting bands in math-core working today.

They held back zero punches as soon as the set began, opening with the thunderous & violent third track from their most recent record, Rituals. The band has stated that they enjoy opening with this song as it’s the most attention-demanding and dark track in their arsenal, and that was made immediately clear. Their unconventional lighting set up alternating between mostly red & purple did well to emphasise the bleak and destructive horror this song so boldly throws at you, kicking things into overdrive instantly.

All grounds were covered during the set, they managed to successfully balance aggressive cuts like Balancing The Dark side to side with more dramatic and awe-inspiring songs like Opalescent and Contretemps, whilst making sure the melodic sweetness of songs like Aftermath didn’t lose their impact in the process, and Eva Spence’s magnetic lead performance held it all together. As these songs played she danced around the stage in a complete trance, no clear pattern to her movements, displaying a natural harmony between herself and the music, which only made the set feel all the more raw & alluring.

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The most throttling moments of the show were when male vocalist James Spence decided to come forward and take centre stage. The chemistry between everyone in the band was completely tangible from beginning to end but to see James break out of it and deliver his maniacal screams directly to the audience made for some unbridled chaos in the crowd, most notably the point where he stage dived during Alma Mater, only heightening the connection between audience and performer.

The patient & ominous build at the start of Contretemps was performed to full effect, the tension was inescapable as soon as the nimble drums came in and eventually transitioned into the incredibly panicked & distraught opening verse. The keys throughout the whole set sounded gentle & inviting too, which alongside the havoc that you can usually expect from a Rolo Tomassi track was a comforting embrace and only further accentuated the beauty of their more melodic tracks.

This was especially evident during their performance of the incredibly evocative crescendo that occurs midway through The Hollow Hour. It was startling and engaging front to back resulting in a wonderfully opulent climax. There was a charming moment where it was evident that a wrong key was pressed, and the ‘oh s**t’ from James that then followed had everyone giggling.

The touching interval speeches from both Eva & James expressing gratitude for being able to perform here and acknowledging the band members’ family in the crowd brought everything home as they managed to weave in these moments of poignant humbleness seamlessly with the often abrasive song transitions. The fractured, elongated guitar feedback screech that played as they walked off stage left everyone feeling as if they had just witnessed something personal, stirring & dazzling, and they’re absolutely right. – Camden Vale-Smith (@staplebuffalo)

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Gig Review: Sobriety light up the Hug and Pint

words fae andrew barr (@weeandreww)

Headlining a bill with Milktoast and Public Displays of Affection at the West End’s basement Hug and Pint venue, Sobriety are something of an unknown quantity in Glasgow’s emerging music scene. The only track the band have released is the brilliantly melancholic Ronnie’s Song, boasting production by The Vegan Leather’s Gianluca Bernacchi, but the four-piece (consisting of frontman Benjamin McGirr, guitarist Dan Drennan, bassist JonJoe McGirr and drummer Sean Gow) have generated enough buzz to headline bills such as this one.

When the set starts at 10pm, it gets off to just about the worst possible start. Opener Boys Club begins with finger-picked guitar and sparse drums, building a tense and anxious atmosphere not too dissimilar to indie giants Interpol. However, the track is abandoned due to a problem with Drennan’s guitar. Luckily, someone in the crowd was able to give him a replacement, and the song is restarted. The band appears unshaken, and the track’s paranoia feels more piercing if anything the second time around, building to not a snarling climax but a superb instrumental bridge which doesn’t only echo but screams The National.

As Sobriety gets into the main body of their set it becomes clear that they are an anomaly in the current Glasgow scene; they are far less concerned with writing catchy hooks than writing moody, melodic tracks which, combined with Benjamin’s low, ominous vocals give more than a subtle nod to emo. That’s not to say the tracks are without any payoff either – the live version of single Ronnie’s Song is a testament to that, with frontman Benjamin deviating from his menacing vocal style the track’s end to let out a hugely emotive scream.

That scream seemed to be a sign of things to come, as Sobriety firmly let go of the handbrake for the last 2 tracks of the night, with the funky yet heavy Wreck Myself growing faster and more menacing before building up to even more screams. The short but sweet set ends on a cover of The Killers’ Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, which the band seems to revel in, pushing each other around on stage while playing the final notes of the night.

It’s clear from this set that Sobriety are a band who are determined to stand out from the indie rock crowd and if they go on to realise the massive potential they showed at The Hug and Pint, there’s no reason why they won’t do exactly that.

Gig Review: Miles Kane @ O2 Academy Oxford

words fae Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

The last time I saw Miles Kane perform live, I was in great shape and was wearing a slim fitting paisley shirt. Fast forward four years later, I am in terrible shape and wearing a Metallica t-shirt because I’ve just stopped caring. However, four years between gigs for Miles, and he’s still in great shape as he got the O2 Academy in Oxford shaking, rattling and rolling.

I love Miles Kane, and without sounding too soppy, I’ve missed him. Colour of the Trap and Don’t Forget Who You Are were two fantastic albums, so as soon as he walked on stage with his brand new band and broke into Counting Down the Days, so many memories of Captain Morgan, the aforementioned paisley shirts and being overly handsome (that better be present tense – Ed) came flooding back as the man in leopard print went hell for leather.

Miles Kane’s studio work is good, but his live showmanship is next level; the energy that goes into every song as he bounces about the stage like a man possessed, with all eyes following him around the stage as he played through hits like Inhaler, Better Than That and Taking Over. They sounded inch perfect and studio crisp as a swelling and sweaty O2 Academy bounced around.

The whole purpose of this tour is to get him back up to match fitness and to promote his upcoming album Coup de Grace. The verdict? From what was played last night, Coup de Grace is shoring up to be a fantastic album. On Annie Mac when he was promoting the release of Loaded, he said that you’d see some Ramones influences, which had me sceptical at best. But with Too Little Too Late, you could see what he meant! It was a banger with punk sensibilities and had all the hallmarks of a classic punk track.

The vibe in the Academy was really good as well, it was an exceedingly good, hyperactive crowd, with a good mix of people. You had yer da in his patterned shirt, ready to have an evening before falling asleep by half 10, then there was the young’uns, boys and girls excited by a Saturday night spent in a sweaty room, all having a good time. The moshpits, something we always look for in these reviews, were of a good consistency, everyone was bouncy, respectful and a good clean fight was had, no eye gouging. Everyone was having fun.

A nice surprise was title track Coup de Grace, which was released as a Record Store Day exclusive, but as is the way, soon found itself on YouTube. Maybe it’s because it was a low quality rip off of a vinyl, but I didn’t really like it, especially after how enjoyable Loaded was. However, taking it from the studio to the stage, Coup de Grace found its feet as a funky, dancey track. Cry On My Guitar was also very enjoyable with its very lounge-esque feel to it, something nice and chilled.

 

This becomes even more interesting considering Miles’ best pal Alex Turner, whose band you MIGHT have heard of just released an album with very similar concepts. Perhaps they’ve been sharing notes, and it’ll be interesting to see what the mix is like on CDG, considering we’ve had two chilled tracks with Loaded and Cry On My Guitar, but we’ve also had two dancier track with Coup de Grace and Too Little Too Late. However, all signs are pointing to the fact that Miles Kane is gearing up to release a fantastic album… at some point this year. Maybe, like, tomorrow would be good?

One criticism of this gig could be is that it was too short, around fifteen songs long and almost exactly an hour on the button, but with such a rich catalogue like Miles’, it’d be impossible to not want more from a setlist, as we were missing Kingcrawler, First of my Kind, Tonight and Bombshells to name a few. Me? I’d have had Kaka Boom, The Competition and Caught In The Act on the setlist as well, so perhaps it was better that he kept it short and sweet, rather than play a set that would just be finishing around now.

However, what did make the setlist was just as tantalising as what didn’t, with Give Up producing a huge reaction, that’s a really good live tune, the way the drums are used in the bridge are fantastic, gives the crowd a chance to regroup and move into the big finish. I’m also glad he played Rearrange as that’s another fantastic track, and closing the set out with Come Closer was the perfect end to the evening.

I’m an old man now, and find it hard to be swayed by people, or influenced by them, but it’s impossible for me to not find Miles Kane ridiculously cool. At the front of a sweaty room, he’s just there, dancing about with a selection of cool guitars, in a flowing leopard print shirt, a fancy pair of jeans and some boots. It’s a look that I’d happily cultivate from now until the end of time. You thought Hugh Jackman was the greatest showman? Guess again.

Maybe it’s because I was on a huge nostalgia bender this weekend, or maybe, Miles Kane is preparing for a thermonuclear assault on the music scene. Whilst nothing’s for certain, Coup de Grace could well be Miles’… er… there’s a phrase for this… it’s French, means a killer blow… nah, fuck, it’s gone.

Gig Review: Slotface, Lucia + Fauves @ Broadcast

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

It’s getting to that point now where Broadcast is becoming a home away from home. Nested into the hustle and bustle that is Sauchihall Street, it’s a musical haven where you can be guaranteed a set few things: a rough but charming venue downstairs, toilets adorned with graffiti patter, great music and the best damn White Russians this side of the Clyde.

Last night’s gig was no different: after taking advantage of the weekday deal and finding some lovely lines about yer da in the cubicle, the venture downstairs commenced as we were greeted by the soothing rock musings of Fauves. Brought to our attention via the recent Tenement Trail, the band have an underlying quality that comes to the surface with repeated listens – at first you’ll find yourself entranced by the jumpiness and warmth this Glasgow outfit radiate but once you return, you’ll realise just how alluring front-man Ryan Caldwell‘s eccentric vocals really are.

No song does this better than Afterglow with its catchy monkey hollering intro followed by a seductive, solid delivery for the verses. It’s clear that Fauves love to play live as much as they love to make music, shown by the dancing incited by Hit Like This with the well timed moves of Rory Bradley and Gianluca Bernacchi, some jazzy drums by Ciaran Devlin quickly pursuing. 

If Fauves were the cheerful, lying-back-on-a-lilo band then Lucia was the moody wave soon to sweep over the unsuspecting Glasgow audience. Backed up by her equally talented band, the eponymous artist’s main draw is the projection of her pipes, easily wrapping the audience around her finger much like her voice does with the supporting instrumentals.

It’s always very apt for the situation, whether that be the ghostly essence they take on at the start of When I Think Of You or the drawn out nature of them when it comes to What Am I, a track that deserves some recognition for just how great it is considering that Lucia has only been around for just over a year. There was an undeniable chemistry between the act, especially during their closing song, which no doubt adds to how well suited they are all to a live setting, acting a seamless transition to the headliners.

That left us with the Scandinavian heavy hitters Slotface to finish off the delicious three course gig and boy, did they leave us stuffed. This recent tour, much like any band, is to promote their recent album but this UK leg feels more like a victory lap than a monetary one: critically lauded, politically charged and amassing nearly a million plays on Spotify alone, the band have managed to find their niche and have reaped the benefits of maintaining the momentum. 

Starting off with Try Not To Freak Out opener Magazine, Haley Shea‘s vocals felt immediately rougher than they do on the album but this ultimately benefited their performance rather than took away from it: as she chimes that “Patty Smith would never put up with this shit”, you feel like she’s already channelling some of that resilience and lets it all out in the hectic chorus. It doesn’t stop the band from lightening up the mood, shown by Pitted with its party narrative that inevitably incites some unruly movement from the crowd – if the venue was just a bit bigger then they really would have put the Pit in Pitted.

As the performance draws to an end, it’s hard to think that Slotface have only played once in Glasgow prior to tonight. The city always remains a favourite for acts all over the world and it’s no different to this indie rock outfit who may not have outright said but definitely showed it with the admiration on their face and their performances all round. It not only solidified them as a band to be reckoned with but one with a bite that matches their bark.