Ed’s note… On Saturday 4th March, local label FOMA threw a party – a showcase of the Harmless Untruths… from some of their roster and beyond.
Headlining were Hoopla Blue, the ‘ridiculously gifted’ Birmingham band who will be opening for The Flaming Lips in August alongside Amber Run. Hoopla Blue have been on the tip of Rob Hadley’s tongue for many months now (Birmingham Review’s Head of Photography) and this was a good opportunity to see them in a label setting.
Plus we got to revisit Mutes, who we haven’t seen with a professional focus since the All Years Leaving Festival in 2015. Grain Death (…i’m thinking Witness?) and Matters (part Them Wolves, part Mayors of Toronto) were relatively new to us, although the latter had popped on our radar after seeing them at the third YR Welcome festival.
So off we went, on the rum hunt for hidden delights and Harmless Untruths… from FOMA. Aatish Ramchurn was the lone scout we sent on reconnaissance to the back streets of Digbeth, tracking down for Blotto Studio and some people making noise. His brief: ‘Write it from a photographer’s point of view’. Luckily he made it in, out and even through such an oxymoron instruction.
Words & pics by Aatish Ramchurn
Sometimes the best experiences can come from venturing into the unknown, and this gig was definitely one of those times. Taking place at Blotto Studio in Digbeth, FOMA held a showcase for the bands on their label, with Hoopla Blue and Mutes.
Until this day I had no idea that a rehearsal space like Blotto Studio even existed. Trying to find it on Google street view was initially a bit confusing, as it appeared to point at what looked like a shed or a garage with no signage. I figured, whatever. Turn up, park outside, go to the ‘shed’ and see what happens.
I ring the doorbell. A guy opens the door and for some reason I’m thinking, ‘do I need a password to come in?’. I say “I’m from Birmingham Review… as a photographer”. A woman’s voice from round the corner says, “…Birmingham Review? Yeah, let him in. He’s on the list”
The guy advises me that I should still keep my coat when I go into the main room, and he was so right about that. It was just as cold as it was outside and I doubt many in there had taken their jacket off.
The venue itself was a warehouse type of place with a small raised stage at front – nicely lit up with warm tone of red, taking away the cold sensation. The crowd themselves were mainly young, hip and liberal, bar the odd older person. A nice and welcoming bunch.
First band on were Matters. An instrumental trio of guitar, synth, drums, and programming, with each track lasting about six minutes or so. Their sound did seem to set an overall tone that matched the atmosphere of Blotto – dark, underground, and yet pleasing at the same time. I was having some difficulty getting a good photo of one the band members due to her face being largely obscured by her Moog set up and having the main speaker stood next to her. Probably a rare instance where it was just easier getting a shot of the drummer, as I was able to get shots from the side of the stage.
Not knowing much about the bands that were playing that night, I thought Matters were setting the tone for what was about to come. Then Grain Death come on with the standard four guys, guitars, bass, and drums set up. Now I’m realising this is going to be a night of very different acts. Grain Death brought their indie noise pop sound to the stage with a lot of confidence, even after an awkward soundcheck.
Mutes, the first of FOMA’s acts, played with a lot energy – their fast paced, punk infused electric sound with the antics of their frontman providing some great images to capture. At this point, I realised I’ve taken way too many images – a freedom and problem with having too much free reign when shooting at small venues. So with Hoopla Blue, I decide to impose the three song rule on myself.
Overall, FOMA’s Harmless Untruths of… showcase was a lot of fun – reminiscent of hanging out at a squat party where everyone is chilled. And whilst the night did go on until late (as a squat party can do) after Hoopla Blue played I called it a night.
Harmless Untruths of… Hoopla Blue @ Blotto Studio 04.03.17 / Aatish Ramchurn
For more on Hoopla Blue, visit www.soundcloud.com/hooplablue
Harmless Untruths of… Mutes @ Blotto Studio 04.03.17 / Aatish Ramchurn
For more on Mutes, visit www.mutesuk.bandcamp.com
Harmless Untruths of… Grain Death @ Blotto Studio 04.03.17 / Aatish Ramchurn
For more on Grain Death, visit www.facebook.com/GrainDeath
Harmless Untruths of… Matters @ Blotto Studio 04.03.17 / Aatish Ramchurn
For more on Matters, visit www.soundcloud.com/mattersband
For more from FOMA, visit www.wearefoma.bigcartel.com
For more from Blotto Studios, visit www.facebook.com/BlottoStudios