Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, 1st of May, 2012.
So how was the first SupaJam/ Gibson EP launch? OK, well obviously we’re biased because we ran the night, buuuut there’s no denying that the place was jumping, the fans were smiling and the bands were killing it… over to our man at the front Oobah Butler for the detailed low down…
The sounds of bowling balls crashing to the symphony of a 6/8 shuffle-beat, as loud as sin, and the croon of a Hammond organ; up first were The Barlights. Not short of impetus, the Norwich born four-piece cut a meek figure when they take to the stage, that is, until they start playing. They opened their set with new track From 32,000 Feet, sounding not too dissimilar to something you’d have heard from REM or, more recently, MGMT’s Congratulations; loose instrumentals, boorishly-boasted drums, and a subtlety in instrumental work. The Barlights continued working on a similar vein with an unrelenting crop of intensity. A particular highlight of mine was when lead-singer Graham Horne took to his guitar for a melodious solo, proceeding toswitch to his harmonica to finish the section. The guys really did give it their all – “I shouldn’t have worn a fucking jumper- It’s really fucking hot up here.” Horne said, causing rapturous laughter. They carried on feeding off of the reciprocating crowd, clambering into older tracks off of last year’s debut album You Cannot Choose The Roads That Take you Home. With their coherent, uplifting sound and winning charm, the lads left the stage a roomful of fans the richer
-From 32,000 Feet
-I Lost You Again
-Love & Love Only
-You Cannot Choose The Roads That Take You Home
“They’re nice, a bit like Arcade Fire” says a woman behind me as Flight Brigade throw themselves into inter-twining melodies, and their opening track Foot Of The Hill. With the aesthetic of a folk-outfit, there’s something far more cynical about these guys; Portishead spring to mind. I can hear interesting textural development, mature instrumentals, and a potent variety in sounds. Insisting, virtually track-by-track, their stunning dynamics – it’s incredibly rare to have this strength and self-restraint in a live show, and even rarer to see it from bands seven members strong.The highlight of the set began with swells of guitar and rigid drums, this was when, vocally, things were really able to take form – Seven Seas was superb.
-Foot Of The Hill (Interlude)
-Children Of Ohio
-When The Water Whispers
Business at the front, party at the back is Yossarian’s mantra.
I’m, 1. Using lead-singer Ash’s mullet haircut as a vehicle and, 2. talking of course about the difference of an aggressive drummer to the borderline shoe-gaze deadpan of the main vocalist; that’s not to say that they aren’t delivered through a swooning baritone. Though I’ve never heard the lyric “Oh my God” used so many times in a song since that larger-than-life guy from the Kaiser Chiefs sang it – this time, it really did feel like a poignant plea. The audience was caught a little off guard by their appeased demeanour; things weren’t going their way, and then came sophomore track Arrow Pt. 1 and the moon and sun aligned. Synth-lines and tremolo guitar left space for a defiant vocal. This style allowed a more natural inclination toward the subtle melodic capacity Yossarian possess. Once past a slightly tentative start, they’re thrilling, above all toward the end when anger looms and the emotions have turned into a storm. The barbed-wire melodies were rarely bettered than on their ultimate track No Body Designs.
-Nothing To Undo
-Arrow Pt 1
– No Body Designs
With the night reaching its final act, everybody had drifted from their respective alley and were now awaiting in anticipation. 10s of pedals pass, hands are shaken, drinks are purchased, wishes of luck are exchanged and the changeover is completed; we are ready for Arp Attack.
There are some sharp insights – lead singer Frankie loses herself in a flurry, multi-instrumentalist Chris showcases electronic-influences, and “animal from the muppets” at the back smashes the drum kit to pieces. The often underplayed aspect of their performances is the sweeter, traditional pop-song; after the first two songs Belgium and Devil’s Drop¸ I was surprised that they had a more constrained approach to the newer material. There is a sense of grand metaphysical aggression at play, and, if you’ve listened to Arp Attack, you know how they attack it; polyrhythms and loud instrumental sections – Illusions springs to mind.
“They will be amazing at Benacassim.” A keen listener leant over and shouted into my eardrum – SupaJam agrees! They look the part too.
Follow The Rhythm, their last song and newest single finishes the set. With an air of triumph the guys lay down their last card — and it’s a winner– the track is packed with summer synths, and hyper kinetic rhythms, Frankie and Chris ransacking every last corner of the stage to whip up a party atmosphere from the undulating crowd. Arp Attack are a very exciting band, I’ll be keeping a keen eye on them to see whether they become a great one.
-Follow The Rhythm
So everybody begins to depart Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes for the freshmen SupaJam/Gibson EP launch, I can’t help but feel enthralled. I’d just seen a staggering, exhilarating show, and a breathing, living slice of where music is at in 2012 – we have high hopes.