Tracks Monkeys With Lasers

Xtra Mile Showcase @ Borderline – 25/05
December 7, 2010, 8:53 pm
Filed under: gigs | Tags: , , , , ,

This show had what was for me a fantastic lineup with The Xcerts, Straight Lines and Crazy Arm all playing who are all bands I’m a big fan of (and had all seen live previously). In addition, one of Xtra Mile’s latest signing, Fighting Fiction, were also due to play so I was intruiged to see what they had to offer.

As it turned out, it wasn’t to be a full band performance from Fighting Fiction but just an acoustic set from the lead singer, Jacob. This was a little disappointing but it was still a good set and made me want to hear more of their stuff. Their EP and newest single are up on Spotify and are well worth a listen.

Next up were Crazy Arm. I really like the record these guys put out last year but when I saw them supporting Frank Turner at the Roundhouse, I was left slightly underwhelmed with their live performance. Sadly, this show did little to change that.

Their songs are very strong but live it was just a little sloppy at times. Every now and again the timing seemed to be slightly off between the band and, for me at least, this was quite noticeable and really spoilt their performance. It’s a bit of a shame as I really do like the album but that’s twice that I’ve been disappointed with them live. Third time lucky?

After that, it was time for Straight Lines to take to the stage. I’d seen these guys only a few months previously as well when they headlined at the Camden Enterprise which was a show I really enjoyed. Here, they put on a good show again but with it not being a crowd there to seem them specifically, it wasn’t as good as before.

That said, I did enjoy their set and they even played one or two new songs from what I remember. Good band, good album and good fun live too.

Finally, it was the main act of the night in The Xcerts. I’d been lucky to catch these guys almost a year ago at Lexapalooza at the Gaff. Back then, there was only a handful of people still around to see them but they really managed to impress me. Since then, their first album had grown on me even more so I was looking forward to seeing how they’d progressed.

As it turned out, they’d come out massively since I’d seen them last. They seemed completely at ease on stage and weren’t afraid to try out something different with their tracks with a different version of ‘Home Versus Home’ working really well.

With their latest album being prepared for release around the time of this show, they showcased a few new tracks, including their latest single ‘Slackerpop’. Not many people seemed to know the track but I enjoyed it and it points to a slightly different sound on the new album from their first.

It can be a bit odd when a band plays new songs live when nobody recognises them. The band seemed to recognise this though so played the new tracks early on, leaving the rest of the set to the material everyone there knew and these sounded great. ‘Crisis In The Slow Lane’ was a particular highlight to me with the now near-capacity crowd singing along to the chorus; quite a difference from the show at the Gaff.

To finish the night, Murray came back out on stage by himself and played the beautiful ‘Aberdeen 1987’. Sadly a lot of the crowd seemed to be chatting amongst themselves at this point but the song was brilliant regardless with the crowd again singing the chorus. Murray may have forgotten the words at one point but this didn’t spoil a thing.

Altogether, it was a great night with three bands I really like playing as well as a new one for me to check out. The Xcerts were the clear standout act of the night though and I only hope these guys can continue to get better and better.

The Xcerts – Aberdeen 1987 (live)

Straight Lines @ The Enterprise – 23/02
February 28, 2010, 6:28 pm
Filed under: gigs | Tags: , , ,

The Straight Lines album has been one I’ve been meaning to review for a little while now as it’s up there for one of my favourite albums of the year so far. Luckily, I’d got hold of a copy of the album a little before the release date (legitimately as well may I add) and thought that they were a band that I would definitely have to catch live if given the chance. And so I was rather happy to hear that they were doing a headline tour of the UK just after the album’s official release with the London date bringing them to the Enterprise in Camden.

The Enterprise is yet another venue that I had never been to before so I went with absolutely no idea of what to expect (although their website wasn’t exactly the most welcoming I’ve ever seen). After eventually getting there and grabbing a drink from downstairs, I wandered up to the venue and was slightly surprised to find that I’d seemingly walked into the world’s smallest venue as it appeared to only be about two or three times bigger than my bedroom ( I do admittedly have a decent sized bedroom.. but that’s not the point). It was also a little concerning that there seemed to be less than ten other people there at the time. But that’s no reason why a gig still can’t be great fun..

The opening act of the night were A Wolf Like Me who were decent enough as an opener. They played a punk rock sound that is difficult to say whether it was good or not as it felt like the kind of music that you might hear your annoying 15 year old neighbour’s band playing in his garage but could also be played by a fairly established band. If you get me. The vocals were okay but nothing overly special but I will admit that their guitarist was pretty damn good and played some solid riffs that were probably the best part of the band’s sound.

Have a cheeky listen to their stuff on their myspace page if you should so wish.

The second support band of the night were the sightly oddly named The Cape Race. This Mancunian five piece played a more pop punk sound than the previous act and sounded good with it. Their bouncy, tight riffs backed up some solid vocals and it was the frontman who made the band with his leaping about the stage and making the most of the obligatory space at the front of the crowd that support bands seem to be given, bringing the microphone down into the crowd and running round singing into people’s faces. It was unfortunate for them that they were plagued by technical problems through their short set but this didn’t stop them putting in an impressive and fun set.

Lend your ears to their myspace for a couple of demos of theirs.

And so we finally came to the main act of the night; Straight Lines. The crowd had filled out a little more by the time they came on but half the crowd was still made up of the support bands and their friends and family. Not that this bothered me in the slightest as I was right at the front at centre stage so I could have been the only person there and it would have made no difference.

They kicked off their set with the raucous ‘A Place to Stay’ which was apt for me as it was this song that first got me into the band when I downloaded it from the Banquet Records website through their music advent calendar. This was a great opener with top energy and a good singalong chorus. However, the sound levels didn’t quite seem right where I was with the guitars feeling a bit too heavy on the treble and the vocals being slightly drowned out.

The sound did improve later on in the set thankfully and this initial problem didn’t hamper the show too much but was noticable to me. The set itself consisted of the majority of the album with only ‘Perfect Mistakes’ and ‘Oh Blue Eyes’ being the only tracks I don’t remember hearing. The mix of big riffs on tracks like ‘Antics’ went alongside the slower tracks such as ‘All My Friends Have Joined The Army’ really well and all the tracks had enough singalong parts to get the crowd to join in with.

As I already said, it was a shame that not that many people there seemed to know the band too well with only myself and a few others singing along. Admittedly, I was lucky to get hold of the album as early as I did so knew the songs a bit better than others there but it was still a shame.

That said, it didn’t affect how much I enjoyed the show. The guys played a great show and it was pretty relentless with only a few breaks between songs through the whole show. The final two songs of the night were probably the highlight for me though with ‘Set Me On Fire And Feed Me To The Wolves’, which may be one of my favourite tracks of the year so far with it’s hugely catchy chorus, and the slower, soaring ending to the show with ‘The Ballad Of Peter Devine’.

I really enjoyed the set myself and it was great to see an up and coming band in a small venue like the Enterprise. I strongly recommend you pick up their album and go see them if you can and I will definitely be taking up Todd on his offer of guestlist tickets for their next London show!!

Straight Lines – The Ballad of Peter Devine (live)

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