Tracks Monkeys With Lasers

Slow Club @ Koko – 01/06
December 7, 2010, 10:43 pm
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Apologies in advance; recollections of this gig are somewhat hazy 6 months on but a review you shall get regardless!

First things first, the support. Yeah, I don’t remember anything about them even if I do still recognise the names. The support on the night was from Spectrals, Summer Camp and Veronica Falls. That’s as much as I can say I’m afraid music fans.

The main act themselves, Slow Club, came bounding on stage, joined by their bass player and drummer and launched straight into a new tracks which was a brave move but one the crowd enjoyed nonetheless.

This high tempo start continued witha surprising early playing of Our Most Brilliant Friends, one of my personal favourites, and Giving Up On Love, allowing for a frantic opening which doesn’t quite fit in with the whole feel of their album; 2009’s ‘Yeah, So’.

After that, the tempo finally dropped with old and new songs alike. The new material sounded very promising and was played with such feeling and assertiveness that it would be difficult for someone unaware of their material to tell the tried and tested tracks from the new and this all points towards a wonderful second album, whenever it may appear.

Of the older songs, the one that sticks out for me was Rebecca’s solo ‘Sorry For The Doom’ which had the packed out Koko transfixed. It did feel at times that the duo were in awe of the crowd as much as the crowd were of them but this didn’t show through too much once the band had settled into their set. In between tracks, the pair also loosened up during the night and were very quaint with Rebecca telling a joke a Waitrose Christmas cracker would be proud of (“What did the cheese say to itself in the mirror? Halloumi”).

The highlights for me though were the two tracks played unplugged with ‘Wild Blue Milk’  coming partway through the set while ‘Christmas TV’ closed off the evening. Thankfully, the crowd showed the respect the tracks deserved giving an eerie hush to such a large audience, meaning the tracks worked well.

On the night, I was very impressed with Slow Club. They overcame the nerves they seemed to have playing to their biggest audience to date and once they had settled on stage, they made it feel like a much more intimate venue than Koko actually is. Not bad for a band once described to me as the “staple support act of Sheffield”.

Slow Club – Our Most Brilliant Friends (live)

65daysofstatic @ Koko – 12/05
December 7, 2010, 8:52 pm
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A belated and, thus, short “review” as I can’t give too many details about this show so long after it took place.

Support on the night came from Nedry, who did nothing for me, and from Loops Haunt who rather impressed with his set on stage and is well worth checking out.

As for 65dos themselves, they played a great set with a good mix of old and new material. The sound system of Koko allowed the new tracks to shine while the older tracks sounded fantastic too. Being on the balcony, I had a good view of the band and I have to say, it’s amazing to watch the band’s drummer in full flow.

It really is a sight to behold when he’s giving it everything and in tracks like the sublime ‘Retreat! Retreat!’ (one of their best moments live) it’s easy to be mesmerised by him.

The set was overall solid and, as mentioned previously, the sound was great. However, Koko doesn’t seem like the best venue for the band. The size doesn’t make for the right kind of atmosphere for their kind of music which, to me, is much better suited to small, sweaty venues like at the Dingwalls (but at least they didn’t break the venue like they did when I saw them there). As such, the crowd felt a little flat but it’s difficult to put on a show in a smaller venue for them when they can sell out a venue the size of Koko.

Overall, I really enjoyed the set and it was nice to get chance to hear the whole of Weak4 and to hear Radio Protector this time round. New tracks like Go Complex and Tiger Girl, at either end of the show, did sound beautiful but without the crowd to match what was going on on-stage, the gig just lacked that certain something to make it truely amazing.

65daysofstatic – Weak4 (live)

Frightened Rabbit @ Koko – 10/03
March 18, 2010, 5:48 pm
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It had been under two weeks since my first ever trip to Koko for the rather spectacular show by Los Campesinos. This was my first time to see the Frabbits though and my expectations were high with their second album ‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks’ having only just been released and sounding like it was written to be heard live, not on record.

I got myself down to Koko a little late so missed the first support band but got myself a place on the balcony just in time for the second act in Airship. These guys sounded quite good to me with some fairly standard indie rock tunes with some keyboards/synths thrown into the mix too. I quite enjoyed their set but thought they were better during their instrumentals than during the singing sections. This isn’t anything against the vocals, which were fine, but they seemed a bit samey music wise during those parts but were much more interesting when just playing music.

As for the main act themselves, Frightened Rabbit kicked the evening off with the new tracks ‘SkipThe Youth’ which worked well as an opener with the long instrumental opening. They then launched straight into the fantastic ‘The Modern Leper’. However, I was a little let down by this on the night as it seemed to lack the punch I was expecting and that seems to be on the album; especially when the chorus kicked in.

The setlist on the night was pretty good I thought with just the right mix of old and new material and the newer songs definitely did stand up alongside the more ‘established’ Frightened Rabbit tracks. For me, the pick of the bunch of the new songs is definitely ‘The Loneliness And The Scream’ which came across really well but I was very surprised and disappointed with the crowd’s involvement on that song as it’s a perfect singalong one with the ‘woah’ sections. In fact, through the night the crowd felt a little flat, especially when compared to the crowd that I saw there for Los Campesinos.

‘Old Old Fashioned’ and ‘The Twist’ off the first album also sounded great on the night, while ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ from the new album was one of the other highlights from the newer material and we were even treated to an explanation of the songs origins being based on a scene from a film by the Olsen twins if I remember correctly.

The band themselves played really well and on the night it was the drumming I was most with as it was part of their sound I’d never really picked up on from the records. The lead singer, Scott Hutchison, sounded really good on the night as well and there was nothing to complain about with the sound from any of them in the end.

The first song of the encore ended up being something of a microcosm of the entire gig though I thought with Scott playing a solo, acoustic version of ‘Poke’. Initially he tried to play it without a mic and without an amp but quickly had to give up on the idea as the sound wasn’t ever going to fill such a venue, especially with so many people talking over him. Despite that, it still sounded fantastic even when he had plugged back in and may have been the best song of the night.

The set closed with a massive rendition of ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ which I wouldn’t have ever put down as a set closer but it worked really well and ended the night on a hight note.

All in all, I thought the show was quite good with a good mix of songs, although I was disappointed ‘Fast Blood’ and ‘Floating In The Forth’ didn’t get a play. I’m still undecided as to whether Koko was a good venue for the band or not in the end as well because the crowd didn’t seem to be up for it and I don’t know whether a different (smaller) venue would have improved this. Despite that, I enjoyed myself and hope that they do come back to London soon!

Frightened Rabbit – The Loneliness And The Scream (live)

Los Campesinos @ Koko – 25/02
March 2, 2010, 1:06 am
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Amazingly, with all the gigs I go to, Koko was yet another music venue I had never frequented (but will be doing so a number of times in the coming months) and now seemed as good a time as any to break my Koko duck having not seen Los Campesinos live for almost 18 months on the ‘Shred Yr Face’ tour in 2008. So long ago, in fact, that that gig actually pre-dates the conception of this blog. On top of that, a group of old work colleagues were all making the trip to Camden for this one so the scene was set for a good night.

After meeting up with said friends, we headed to the venue a little after the doors opened and got in surprisingly easily. The floorhad already been pretty much filled by this point though so we headed up onto one of the numerous balconies that Koko affords and managed to nab ourselves a pretty neat spot. This was one of the things that surprised me about Koko; it didn’t seem the biggest venue in the world to start with but had a good few levels that weren’t too far from the stage at all so it was easy to get a good viewing spot.

As we arrived a little late, the first support band of the night, Islet. These were an odd little band as the four of them flitted between the instruments on stage to give each song a quite different feel. For some of these, it worked really well but for others it’s fair to say that it didn’t. They had a bit of a Dananananaykroyd feel at times I thought and this was even more true when one of their songs saw two of the band take up positions behind drumkits. The vocals were what spoilt their sound at times though with some odd noises and unnecessary shouty vocals at times. I thought they were okay for an opener until their last song which was fantastic with the entire band playing a various assortment of drums and percussion which sounded amazing. A very strong finish to their set.

Next up on stage were the twosome going by the name of Swanton Bombs with just a drummer and singer/guitarist which bought the inevitable White Stripes comparisons from the guys I was with. This was a fair comparison on the one hand as they played a similar all out rock sound interspersed with a bit of blues but on the other, it’s very unfair to ever compare someone to Jack White and his guitar playing. That said, they more than hold their own. The drumming was top notch and the guitar work was pretty darn good as well with the vocals from both guys complimenting this sound really well. Overall, I really liked their frantic sound and may have to look into getting hold of a copy of their album..

So it was finally time for the main act of Los Campesinos to fill the stage, entering the venue to raptuous applause before launching straight into ‘I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed. Just So You Know’, with Gareth instantly showing how good a frontman he’s become bounding around the stage, and this was instantly followed up by the huge ‘Death To Los Campesinos!’ which got whatever remnants of the crowd weren’t already dancing to get bouncing along too.

The sound from the band in the venue was absolutely spot on on the night with crystal clear vocals and all the instruments levels being at near perfect levels so there was absolutely nothing there to spoil their sound. The set itself was a perfect mix of their older material as well as the new stuff. Only a few songs of ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ got an airing thankfully (with that album not being a favourite of mine) with the best songs in ‘Miserabilia’ and the title track getting played.

Of the rest, I can’t really think of a song I would have liked to have heard them play that they didn’t (EDIT: that’s a lie, ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ was the only extra song I’d like to have heard). ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ never fails to get the crowd going when played live and it’s a good job that most of the crowd were in their skinny jean otherwise their choice of trouser may have fallen down with the amount of jumping and dancing going on. The newer songs, such as ‘Romance Is Boring’ and ‘This Is A Flag. There Is No Wind’ slotting in alongside the old tracks flawlessly.

While off stage the crowd were going mental, even up on the balcony where I was, on stage the band were great too. Gareth leapt and bound around the stage like a man possessed, occassionally throwing himself to his knees or joining in with the drumming. Meanwhile the rest of the band got on with their job and played a blinder. There was even time for a bit of chat with the crowd over Gareth’s despair of missing out on the ‘Best Band Blog’ award at the NME awards the week before.

The best was most certainly saved to last with the setlist though with ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’ being the penultimate song of the night. As I mentioned in my review of the album, I think this is one of their finest moments to date and sounded great live with the contrast in Gareth’s vocal between the quiet and shouty lines working really well. But to finish was my favourite song of theirs in ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’ with it’s frantic pace and fantastic singalong sections. The bands made the most of it with some trips into the crowd with Gareth getting lost under the swamp of fans at one point before being rescued by security.

And we were even treated to a brief encore with ‘This Is How You Spell “HAHAHA, We Destroyed The Hopes And Dreams Of A Generation Of Faux Romantics” ‘ and ‘Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats’ which rounded the night off brilliantly.

I was amazed at how far the band seemed to have come since the last time I saw them. Every song sounded great and the new material more than holds it’s own against the older stuff. At one point Gareth thanked the crowd for their support and said that he hoped none of the band would ever have to get real jobs again. Based on this performance he has nothing to worry about.

Los Campesinos! – The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future (live)

Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks (live)

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