Words by Jay Dyer / Pics by Rob Hadley (Indie Images)
It’s Bank Holiday Sunday and it seems nature has given us Brits one final fleeting glimpse of what summer should be. It’s hot, it’s muggy and a wave of BBQ smoke lingers on the air.
However the promise of a darkened room filled with sweaty people and loud music is too good to miss. Word reaches me that two of the best local promoters, This is Tmrw and Killer Wave, have teamed up to bring some exciting local and international underground bands to the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath.
The venue’s second, smaller room is host for this evening; its floor is already nice and sticky as I take a quick trip to the bar. The first band up on stage is The Mothers Earth Experiment, a six-piece ensemble who answer the question ‘’what’s up with all these flared jeans?’’.
The Mothers Earth Experiment arrange themselves on stage (which isn’t easy for a six-piece) and begin their set. The word ‘experiment’ within their name is aptly chosen; the band fuses together such a variety of genres that it is both old and fresh simultaneously. A luscious blend of Psychedelia, Jazz and Blues that takes you on a journey through the best parts of the 60’s and 70’s; in parts, they sound like Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, in others the writing process behind The Beatles Revolver.
Each segment is wonderfully brought together – from the dual percussion, to the slightly overdriven guitars to the Ray Manzarek-esque organ. You get the feeling while watching The Mothers Earth Experiment that they must have so much fun in the rehearsal studio, just their effortless ability to be in complete sync is something to be admired. Arguably some of their instrumental songs go on a bit too long, but overall the set is a good dreamscape to begin the night – even if the room is a little empty this early on.
It appears the Hare & Hounds have their AC on the ‘ARCTIC’ setting too; to warm up I take a brief look outside to see more people have arrived, which is good news. Terror Watts are up next, a band that I’ve been keeping an ear on for some time; the three-piece are highly praised around Birmingham and this will be the third time I have seen them live.
Terror Watts play a form of high paced punk rock with a few more added pop hooks than most similar acts. They seem to have nailed the three-chord-song and maintain the pop melody throughout, which is quite intriguing. The rhythm section is pretty damn brutal and the bass is full of energy, which really compliments the high end distorted guitar and the melodic vocals. The room is much fuller by this point, something that reflects in the Terror Watts’ performance – one which is all about energy.
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are up next, as another influx of people come up the narrow winding stairs into the still unnaturally cold Room 2. Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are another band I have heard quite a lot about, however I’ve not yet had the chance to see them live. Like their predecessors, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam focus upon delivering a fast paced, energetic set with lots of movement both physically and sonically.
They utilise dual vocals extremely well and the two very different tones intertwine wonderfully. The use of over driven, octave effects on the guitar is also worked perfectly. Many bands use this technique to varying success, but the sounds produced tonight are refined and blend well with the raw power of the rhythm section. Although it’s hard to put a finger on the style Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are making; in some parts I hear Palma Violets, in others I hear some Blink 182 (I apologise).
Table Scraps take to the stage next; the three piece are a punky, gritty mass of noise which comforts my ears. The pace of this band is the fastest tonight, with the tempo seeming to ever rise alongside the thunderous noise. The drums are the heartbeat; they pound and reverberate around the room with much focus upon the toms.
The tortured vocals are exactly what you would wish for with this style of music, cutting through the low end noise and ringing out catchy melodies for the duration of the set. The choruses are great for the crowd to scream back at the band, and there’s a ritualistic chant behind almost every song.
Table Scraps have elements of Ty Segall running through their music (albeit a far sludgier version) with simple songs played in a way you do not hear very often. This band are great for getting the heart race and adrenaline running, which is shown when the first crowd surfers of the evening start occurring in the middle of the room. And thankfully Table Scraps seem to have made the room a little bit hotter to counteract that air conditioner.
The penultimate slot goes to Madrid 3-piece, The Parrots. And I will get the following comparison out of the way, because the band (or their fans) are most likely bored of hearing it… and with my limited knowledge of Madrid’s music scene… The Parrots sound very similar, in terms of style, to Hinds. Absolutely no bad thing, but rather a look into what the Spanish are up to. But I love it, I really do. The harmonic distorted vocals, the jangling guitar lines, the galloping bass and the swinging drums; it all just fits so, so well.
The Parrots also have elements of psyche rock bands such as The Allah-La’s, and their overall sound is just overwhelmingly feel good. Yes, it is simple, but that’s the joy because they make it sound so fun. It’s not over laden with noise and over-experimented on the effects; it is honest and completely to the point, which is right up my street.
The Parrots’ front man, Diego García, is eye catching – running about the stage, ending up on his back whilst screeching out a guitar line. This is the craziest I have seen the Hare & Hounds‘ crowd tonight and it’s a great surprise to discover a band I really, really, want to see again.
But this is it. I have overheard, at various points this evening, how much people are looking forward to tonight’s second headliner The Garden. Somehow I’ve not listened to this band before either, but once again I am looking forward to see what all the fuss is about.
As I stand right next to the stage right speaker, I am shocked to see Trent Reznor (straight from the ‘March of the Pigs’ video set) and a young Dave Gahan wearing French regency makeup walk onto stage. One sits at the drums and the other picks up the bass, as they tear into a set which both confuses me and intrigues me equally.
The Garden are, almost definitely, the most polarising band I have ever witnessed live. I would understand that a lot of people would absolutely hate them, but I am not one of them (…I think). The Garden seem to cross genres nearly every second – starting with cataclysmic death metal style bass lines, then intertwining jazz, electro, new wave and beyond. It is madness, absolute pure unadulterated madness; you have to be completely open-minded and expect nothing.
Inexplicably, midway through a song, The Garden ‘twins’ (brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears) both drop instruments and embark what I can only deem as electro/dubstep karaoke which the crowd absolutely loves. If I were to attempt to define the sound I would suggest beginning with Devo, then imagining that Devo took some really awful acid and spawned some brutal dark Devo baby. Then you’d be close.
But there has been a lot on stage tonight, as The Garden end our Bank Holiday mayhem with simply a really strange set. One which has an incredible reaction from the crowd surfers, but something I was not expecting to witness on a Sunday.
For more on The Garden, visit http://www.thegardenvadavada.com/
For more from The Parrots, visit www.facebook.com/theparrots1
For more from Killer Wave, visit www.facebook.com/kllrwv
For More from This Is Tmrw, visit www.thisistmrw.co.uk
For more from the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk