Listener, Crazy Arm, Bangers et al @ White Rabbit, Plymouth – 4th August 2012
Irony. Alanis Morissette never quite grasped it as a concept but life is steeped in it. Like a late bus delaying you from arriving in time for the start of an all day gig in a Bus Station for instance. That’s what happened on my way to the latest offering at the White Rabbit in Plymouth’s Bretonside Bus Station and because of that I only heard the closing strains of Bear Fight as I approached the venue. I can only apologise to the band for this but the murmurings among the rest of the crowd were that the Plymouth band was on fine form. So it was left up to Drexl to kick things off as far as I was concerned and what an intense start for 5.45pm on a Saturday!?! With humour, anger and a huge sense of injustice, frontman Chris Muirhead takes to the floor stage and eyeballs the entire crowd en masse. Muirhead’s brand of spoken word and lung busting screams draw the audience in only for them to be blasted away by the choppy, tight riffs and driving rhythm section. One hell of a wake up call from a band named after a minor alien beast from Star Wars!
|Lande Hekt of Muncie Girls|
Like a kid in a sweet shop, I was finding it hard to control myself with great new bands everywhere I looked but then I stumbled across the musical equivalent of a bag of moldy cough candy twists when re-entering the main room to watch Solutions. On first impressions, this quartet sounded like a poor man’s 3 Colours Red but on further listening they just got worse. Playing on a bill full of impassioned, doing-it-coz-they-have-to, talented bands, Solutions stuck out a mile as run-of-the-mill, lazy and inexplicably arrogant considering the distinctly average rock they were peddling. The only entertaining point of the set was the red trousered bassist trying and failing to have some banter with the crowd but not, as he thought, because of his mild Welsh accent but rather because he was neither funny, interesting or captivating and those in the room were just bored and trying to work out where this all fitted in with an otherwise astounding line up. So, one last saunter through to the floor stage to catch Southampton’s Our Time Down Here who, by the time I reached them, were already bouncing between floor and ceiling and hitting hard with their brand of punk that made me want to go home and dig out all my old Atari’s and Engine 88 CDs that are gathering dust under my bed. They also boasted one of the most entertaining drummers I have ever seen, Shane Bonthuys, who head banged his way through the entire set without missing a beat and kept the OTDH juggernaut pounding relentlessly forwards. Singer Will Gould is probably the most mobile man of the day, bouncing off walls and switching between friendly, appreciative banter (take note, Solutions) and throat tearing vocals with the ease of someone changing lanes on the autobahn.
Penultimately (new word?) we have local gods Crazy Arm with a full 6-piece line up and dashing line in black shirts. Now, admittedly, I already know and love Crazy Arm but I’ve never seen them play a hometown show so I was particularly interested to see how their performance differed from the London shows I’d previously seen them at and I was not disappointed. Playing in front of friends and fans who knew all the words, these folk-punkers were freed from the shackles of trying to impress and seemed to thoroughly enjoy their set from start to finish. Jon Dailey’s acrobatic guitar work was a thing of beauty and Darren Johns fronts the band like a young Bruce Springsteen, all gravelly tones and wide legged rock stances whilst never losing eye contact with the front row. What sets Crazy Arm apart from the crowd are the songs though, and renditions of ‘Song Of Choice’, ‘Of The Tarantulas’ and a rare outing for ‘Kith and Kingdom’ have the crowd singing back every word with fierce pride and belief in the carefully crafted lyrics. The occasional additions of Patrick James Pearson on keys and violin as well as the demure Vicky Butterfield on backing vocals (see, I told you there was another woman) add a touch of class to proceedings that bring to mind Arcade Fire’s younger, angrier siblings and suggest that there is yet more room for the band to grow and more ground for them to cover.
|Are you Listener-ing?|