Words by Matthew Osborne / Pics by Jonathan Morgan
For a variety of reasons (including a stressful day at the office followed instantly by a four year old’s birthday party) I was looking forward to a few beers on Friday night, and having my rib-cage rattled by supersonic bass lines.
The beer was easy to come by, the Hare and Hounds has a reputation as a seller of ales after all, but I had to wait through a fairly tame DJ set for anything approaching a vibration in my bones.
No fear, I thought, as I knew that the Alternative Dubstep Orchestra (ADO) would be performing soon. As show time approached, the room – which had remained fairly empty whilst the DJ played, began quickly filling up.
When the many ADO members, too plentiful to count accurately with beer inside you, took to the stage, I manoeuvred myself into a dancing position. They started with an instrumental number which kept on threatening to drop in a devastating way, but it ended before it could; the tune acting more as an introduction to proceedings.
But when vocalist Mish Maybe arrived the ambience changed; she and the violinist performed a beautiful and wordless duet. This was the opening to their new single, ‘Power’. It quickly developed from haunting ambience to menacing intensity as the band expertly wove angular guitar parts with vertiginous bass drops and electronic wizardry.
However my rib cage was still very much intact, I noticed after a quick pat down. Song after song ADO played all the right cards to get my feet stomping and my hips telling the truth (my attempt at dancing) yet there was always something missing.
I ran through a mental checklist; drums, tight as a ducks rear entrance; horns, splendid and bright; guitar, sparkling; bass…. great bass lines. But there lay the key, I thought. The Hare and Hounds was perhaps not built to withstand devastating bass attacks, but it felt as though someone had turned the lower frequencies off.
For much of the night it felt like ADO were dropping it like it was warm, but I don’t think this was entirely their fault. For the whole set I admired their musicianship and inventiveness; ADO reminded me sometimes of Portishead, with Maybe’s vocals possessing that injured quality Beth Gibbons made her trademark. At other times the felt like a more invigorating Massive Attack.
Towards the end of the set I fidgeted around the room and eventually found a sweet spot near the sound desk. Finally, from there, I was able to get a bass sound that slapped me about a bit. My bones still retained all of their calcium, but it was enough to scratch a bothering itch.
Alternative Dubstep Orchestra are an act that needs festival size stages, or rigs big enough to do their sound justice. And when I played the 12” vinyl of ‘Power’ on my home stereo, with the bass turned up full, I immediately got what had been missing at the Hare and Hounds.
For more on Alternative Dubstep Orchestra, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AlternativeDubstepOrchestra
For further gigs at the Hare and Hounds, visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/