Words by Ed King / Pics by Lucy Heath
Who are Folks? Seriously, I want names. I want dates too – as the ‘hotly tipped Manchester six piece’ appear to be chronologically incongruous.
The BBC wrote about them in 2005, their last MySpace blog was in April 2009, John Robb wrote about them in Feb 2011, with most other music websites featuring them from September the same year. I first found them about 4 weeks ago; which makes me late, a little sheepish, but still interested.
So I drag myself (off the sofa, away from the radiator, into some shoes, on to a bus…) to the Hare & Hounds, braving a very British Tuesday, to find out first hand. I’d been Google searching all week and a more traditional approach was required. Preferably one with a bar.
Catching the end of Cat Chinn’s set, a plucky punk poplette (I am alliteration’s bitch) from whom I would welcome a headline set, I nestle into a double JD.
The room is, to be straight, sparse; I wander downstairs to count stragglers. Pursuing the flyer stand with one eye and counting a potential crowd with the other, I am underwhelmed. Which is unfortunate; from what I did find online Folks seem worth a cheap gander, and tonight’s door charge is a modest £6.
So glug, slam, shuffle and climb – I make my way back upstairs, just as Folks kick off with ‘Skull & Bones’; the marching rock first release from their debut album, ‘I See Cathederals’.
I recognise the hot footed gutsy groan from their website (where a generous selection of live streams are on offer) and I like it. If I’m being coy I’d say ‘catchy’. If I’d had two more large JDs, I’d be looking for a table to mount.
Solid drums, solid riffs, a big build, a break, clean keys (think ‘A Day in the Life’) another 1min37secs of the same, and straight into ‘Avalanche’; the firm strumstrumstrum intro leaving just enough room for Scott Anderson’s vocals to get noticed. A Manc lad he may be, but one that can certainly carry a tune.
Although mind control he does not possess, as an impassioned plea to “come forward… we don’t bite” falls on deaf ears. The pepper spread audience continues to avoid the front half of the room like some vortex of responsibility. I, self-righteous/consciously, have a notepad and pen to look after, so stay by the bar.
‘Say Something’ gets dedicated “to our new friends, Kerry and Charlie”, who don’t appear to be in the room, and feels like a pastiche of their label associates; before the Monkees b-side, ‘Venom’, pushes Anderson into a lower, lackluster register.
Folks “slow things down” for ‘Where Does the White Go’ – a proficient piano led vocal lament, with an Isley Brothers riff thrown in; before jumping back up to the guitar stomp of ‘Do the Right Thing’.
Anderson unleashes a scream, roll of the eyes, tambourine and smile, then asks “are you alright Kings Heath?” before seeing if “we can go higher” with ‘4 & 20 Blackbirds’; a rising wall of sound, that punches its way off the stage and head butts us mercilessly around the room. Anderson’s vocals get lost, one guitarist abandons his axe for distortion pedals, and I shut my eyes and think of ‘Starla’. I think most of us are having fun.
A posthumous dedication introduces ‘We’re All Dead’, allowing the strum-pluck-vocals to take us back by the hand; before the thump, thump of gregarious rock returns with ‘In a Moment’. A solid song, but one that reminds me of the closing credits to Grease.
‘My Mother’ closes the set, with an upbeat two fingers lacing its, oddly reminiscent, chorus. Anderson thanks us “so much for sticking around”, before most of the band set up camp behind the merchandise stand.
Tight, confident and occasionally all too familiar; Folks deserved a much bigger audience. But signed to Ignition Records, I’m sure they’re in good hands – and even The Beatles spent years on the road perfecting their craft.
But I suspect the next 6-12months, and impending festival circuit, will define Folks; hopefully (in my mind deservedly) as a more prominent pillar of modern British rock. But we’ll see. Whilst Jessie J exists, and the TV churns out more sewage than the Ganges, I still fear the cultural apocalypse.
If only there was some medium, some far reaching audio and visual platform, where bands could promote themselves freely; perhaps cleverly indexed with unique ‘addresses’…
Which reminds me, I did get an answer to my opening question. Apparently www.wearefolks.com
Folks debut album, ‘I See Cathedrals’, is out now. For more on Folks, visit http://www.wearefolks.com
For more gigs from Birmingham Promoters, visit http://www.birminghampromoters.co.uk