Urrgghh… a gig on a Sunday, who has the energy/serotonin left?
Apparently quite a few people, as I saunter (stumble) into the Hare & Hounds Room 2 alongside a very respectable crowd. Numberswise that is, they could all be slow boiling lost children at home for all I know. Or care. My Sunday roll call of compassion is often woefully one-sided. But a strong tail end of the weekend audience have turned out to support RDE and Setting Son’s August showcase – with local lads (and it is a bit of a sausage fest tonight) Whitelight, The Lizards, and The Hungry Ghosts all supporting Joe Talbot’s label champions, Lice.
Whitelight, a band I’ve not heard of before tonight but who I’m reliably told have come from the aftermath of Shaake, take up the first space on the bill – a stripped back twosome, guitar and drums, delivering a big room sound that far surpasses their square inches on stage.
Jokingly I said words to that effect would be my review, but adding ‘fuck me they rock’ probably sums it up quite nicely. There may be a few disjointed moments tonight, in set relying too heavily on the ‘break… and kick in’ rock power play, but the musicianship from this arena filling sound is a more than a little impressive. I could even use the word ‘Hendrix’ and not feel like too much of a fraud. But keep an eye on those listings and make your own addled mind up about them. Whitelight; you have been warned.
Next up are The Hungry Ghosts, a band I love to the core but feel compelled to judge with an extra stern eye. And ear. And gut. And all those things I need to be truthful. But having a replacement bass player on stage tonight – with Miles Cocker filling in for Emily Doyle over a few of the summer months – the most immediate of my knee jerk commentaries is ‘an overwhelming newness’ to their performance tonight.
It’s exciting, it’s rock and roll, but it’s also a little… The stage, for a start, feels too small, with the proficient wall of blues rock tumbling over the first song and smothering ‘Death Rattle Blues’ – the sophomore on the set list tonight. I’ve seen The Hungry Ghosts crammed into much tighter corners, but something is uncomfortably full tonight. And yet there is a… about it all. And as I wrestle with the ellipses that will no doubt be haunting my copy later on, I write ‘too much of something’, ‘this band just keep getting better’, before adding ‘I don’t know’ to my drunk spider scrawl.
‘Lazaro’ follows, with Joe (INSERT SURNAME HERE)’s vocals feeling well rounded for a weekend finale, before a bit of a swing/miss from new song ‘Jesus Fever’ and a somewhat lacking rendition of the tried and tested ‘Super King King’ – one of my longstanding favourites from this band’s slaughterhouse repertoire. But when you’re close to perfection it’s hard to stay consistent, and exciting ebbs and discouraging flows continue from ‘the ghosts’ set tonight – yet I am, once again, left both curious and eager. For all its ferocity and fallacy, it feels like something is brewing in The Hungry Ghosts’ set list tonight, with this Sunday showcase perhaps just first public introduction to an exciting evolution. But never fear; we’ll see/hear from The Hungry Ghosts soon enough, and ‘Shake the Devil’ will no doubt be in there somewhere near the start.
It is now that I must issue an honest, albeit rather unsatisfactory, apology, as I miss The Lizards’ set due to cider and an earth shatteringly endearing band I fell afoul of at the downstairs bar. But I shall leave you with two pearls of wisdom: 1) Orchard Pig cider is not as benign as it sounds, and 2) Liquid Cheeks. And I’ll bet my pension (currently about £32 and a first edition Roald Dahl) that in 18 months time you’ll not need an explanation for the latter.
Time… enough. Attack ships on fire introduce the headline act for tonight, the Bristolian barrage of fun that are Lice. Well documented for bad time keeping and guttural prose, both attributes close to my heart, it is the band’s frontman that I’m most keen to see in full swing. But an army of low thumped drums, distorted feedback, and restrained punk pretensions (if such a thing can exist in the realms beyond oxymoron) are soon taking my eyes across the rough edged four piece. Frontman, Alistair Shuttleworth, who has set the stage for such anarchic atrocities as Fat White Family, owns the Sunday night dwindling crowd from the off – delivering his trademark prose in a way that makes me sit up straight yet miss every word. A linguistic trick I almost love and hate him for in the same short, sharp intake of breath.
But they are commanding, even to a room that seems half empty from the last time I stood in it (The Lizards, cider, downstairs bar, shit journalist…) and I am quickly moving my shoulders in that way a middle aged man does when he wants to let go. Lice last played in Birmingham “on this stage, almost exactly a year ago” as part of the Killer Wave all day August band Holiday event in 2017, and it’s good to see them headline after such a well earned 12 months.
Oddly, even incongruously (if I were a devotee of Paul Dacre) polite, each song gets a stomach propelled “thank you” as Lice blast though their short songs and punchy set – delivering a well meant audio assault that makes me want to invite them, and their backline, to my next birthday party. Superb, SUPERB FUCKING PERCUSSION. But jumping from the tirade of an angry child to the wisdom of someone with something to say, Lice live up to their hype – as the Joe Talbot endorsed ‘fuck you we don’t care’ send out a set that shows this band mean business. And, even somewhat perversely, I believe them. If my mum were here she would probably file for adoption.
Sunday gigs are hard to promote, Lord knows I know – having spent over a year of my life doing it week in week out. But Setting Son and RDE have delivered this end of the weekend ensemble with fine fettle, setting a backbone of local luminaries against a visiting headline act who well deserve the attention. And, wonderfully, there was a good crowd to receive it. Even if the previous 48 hours have left the room’s frontal cortex a little bereft… well, mine at least.
Ha, and now to write a review about it (my ‘get it down as soon as you get home’ policy). But beyond ‘research Whitelight’, ‘The Hungry Ghosts’ new stuff’, ‘buy The Lizards a drink’ and ‘see Lice play on their home turf’, the South Park back catalogue is about all I have left. I bet Burroughs never had this problem. Possibly a bad comparison. Now, where’s that corkscrew and laptop power cable gone…
Lice @ Hare & Hounds 12.08.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on Lice, visit www.facebook.com/licebristol
The Lizards – supporting Lice @ Hare & Hounds 12.08.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on The Lizards, visit www.soundcloud.com/allyourfriendsarelizards
The Hungry Ghosts – supporting Lice @ Hare & Hounds 12.08.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on The Hungry Ghosts, visit www.thehungryghosts.co.uk
Whitelight – supporting Lice @ Hare & Hounds 12.08.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on Whitelight, visit www.officialwhitelight.com
For more from Setting Son, including further event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.facebook.com/settingsonrecords
For more on the Hare & Hounds, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk
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