Sat 30 July Zaardvark & True Swamp Neglect

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Zaardvark @ Champions 30 JulyAfter the HopeFM fundraiser, Champions beckons as Zaardvark are on stage. Even though I nicked their set list when they played my birthday garden party, I’m still unsure of the titles, however all of their music is again well executed with supposedly awkward rhythms that work well, and a jazz funk vibe from Andy’s bass and Mark’s guitar and effects. He’s using a bottle neck at some points, totally unique with the way the effects processing interprets the sounds

True Swamp Neglect @ champions 30 JulyI’d totally managed to miss True Swamp Neglect when I started doing LiveWire Live five years ago – they were just about stopping gigging as I was really starting in earnest. This reunion has been brought about by those members who’ve moved abroad coming back for a couple of weeks, so tonight is a chance to hear (with only a couple of rehearsals) what were at one time the second best band in Bournemouth, as tipped by BhOne’s Tone. A huge number of fans have obviously also taken the same opportunity as Champions is packed in the band area, and all those are going absolutely nuts with applause.

Ian on Theremin: True Swamp Neglect The music is grungy in nature thanks to some good underlying continuous bass sustains. The lyrical melodies totally belie what is going on with the three guitars, which are sticking with the sustained chords for the most part. Then there are the groove moments, heavy with effects, this is definitely music with substance to be chilled to when listening. What I find interesting is that these guys get on and do the music without the theatrics and stage presence (save a shoe on the mic stand?!?) that many of todays generation of bands indulge in, and which I enjoy. Great all the same.

Bhone Birthday Fundraiser – 4th gig

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By the time I arrive in Champions (slightly late through doing some dive club activities for BSAC), Zaardvark are already playing. I’m disappointed I’ve missed Yaaard‘s set, since I’ve not heard Chris Catlin doing things before, and I hear he’s one of the most appreciated remixers in town. I also gave gig 3 a miss through other commitments.

Zaardvark

Zaardvark bhone BdayI love their instrumental tunes, even though there are are no names delivered, these are knocked out pretty smartly. It’s quite funny as none of the lads want to speak, they just want to get on with the music. Dave (behind the drumkit) is perhaps the most likely to be a front man, yet he takes a step back in Zaardvark to put the music first.

Having said that about the tightness of the sound, one intro is muffed – Dave’s excuse is that’s what happens when he tries not to count out loud – small wonder really, it’s in a five beats to the bar time signature, with awkward cross-rhythms within that.

There are loads of effects also being generated on top of the music from this eclectic three piece outfit, the fourth man is a composite of an ipad with a click track and pre-recorded synth, a sampler driven by this footswitch, and Mark’s array of foot pedals, pre-programmed to match the track sequence.

The last song is indicative of their electro jazz style. Rather than just have a click track, they’ve opted for a click with synth overtones, therefore lots of electronic twiddly sound generator bits mixed into it. These are then mixed with heavily effect loaded guitar and bass.

The crowd, that seem to have heard these guys many times before, go appropriately nutty. Talking afterwards, not all the pieces have titles, and Zaardvark are building up to having them all presented together in an Opus, so they are all essentially different  movements of the same grand work. Good stuff, and look forward to that gig.

Matt Marr

Matt Marr bhone bdayAs these guys step out from the green room, I’m surprised to see friends Ed Pope and Martin Ruddock walk on stage. I’d previously looked for a band listing and not found one, so falsely assumed it would be Matt Marr doing a solo set (not that I’ve seen him before, either).

The opener is pretty heavy, then there’s a bit of kerfuffle because things don’t work initially as Matt switches to an acoustic, they’re then straight into a rock and roll inspired track. A switch back to electric rhythm guitar and we’re back to the heavy stuff, this time the keys are just about audible over the hugely loud guitar work.

Another electric to acoustic switch, using the same lead for both guitars must cause a problem for Paul on the mixing desk which probably why the levels are all over the place each time there’s a switch. Its only a mild distraction, I can just about make enough of the vocals to hear the stories in the songs, and these are songs with a story, showing there’s a talented song writer within Matt.

The latter half of the set is different, more pop focussed rather than heavy, with very catchy choral licks, this vein continues for the rest of the set, very punchy drums, and lively poppy music with it.

At the end Matt announces the band, Ed Pope on bass, Martin Ruddock on guitar and backing vocals, Grim Reaper on keys, Dixie on drums (when Matt says he needs no introduction Dixie gets his own little cheer). Matt himself as you’ve hopefully gathered is on guitar and vocals.

Dutch Husband

Dutch Husband bhone bdayTony from bhone gives Dutch Husband a huge build up, and understandably so for this reunion gig. I don’t think I’ve seen them live before, they were in the studio a long time back when I wasn’t able to make it; I loved the show they did when I listened back; their tracks have been regularly featured on the show ever since, even though they’ve not been together for some time.

There is a long pause after their opening track, turns out lead guitar Paul’s amp has blown and a replacement is hastily arranged. Apparently tech difficulties were a regular feature of Dutch Husband gigs when they were gigging.

As I’m not familiar with their live material, I’m unprepared for what follows. One song I discover afterwards [thanks Zaardvark] is called Map Of The Map courtesy of True Swamp Neglect (youtube link) has the refrain Aaah, the DH regulars know what’s coming and go mad in the appropriate moments, also joining in at the end with Aaahs on cue.

The songs are punchy and rocky, with generally New Order-esque bass lines from Imogen. They all rock out with huge sniles on their faces in the musical interludes between lyrics.

Then again we have true grunge numbers like White Teeth, where the guitars aren’t doing much as all the melody comes from a tiny keyboard, meanwhile there’s a large mosh thing going on in the front.  Good heavy and serious rock gig, and totally enjoyable. However I leave early to reach a totally different party vibe at O’Neills – sort of Big Face Reggae doing a sort of acoustic set.

Big Face Reggae

Big Face Posse O'NeillsI say sort of Big Face Reggae (perhaps should be called Big Face Posse) as there are a load of extras joining them on stage. Sort of acoustic as there’s lots of other things going on.

Its Fiona’s (O’Neill’s manager) birthday, and there’s a total party vibe as a result, walking in just before midnight I’d expect a few drunks, seems everybody is totally merry and has been for most of the evening, hence the mood is electric and glorious. 

Catching up with Si Crockett afterwards (leader of Big Face Reggae) he’s played so many gigs over this weekend, his fingers are worn, blistered and cracked, both as a result of guitar work but mainly from percussion.  He says he doesn’t care though, such has been the time he’s had over the break.

Taking my leave again, I head over to Chaplins on the way home, where Fiona Fox has played a set.  She’s only just finished by the time I get there, we spend a bit of time just hanging out and having a laugh with others.  By all accounts she’s just played her best gig ever, she was great, the crowd were great with her, so she is totally on a high, which is great (yes I know there’s a lot of great there!)

Great [sic] stuff all round.

Champions Fancy Dress

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Powdered Cows Champions

By far the most noticeable thing about tonight is the large number of animal costumes that have invaded the packed out venue. Turns out a hen party of musos and others have decided to finish off their night in here.

Powdered Cows are playing their last song. By all accounts their set has not been as experimental as usual; a solid string of good tunes, to my mind the last song is musical, melodic and pretty, which fits what I’ve been told by others.

What I’m really enjoying seeing is the varied numbers of people that have come out tonight, so many different musos and hangers on like myself.

Zaardvark Champions

This is Zaardvark‘s debug gig, and its a good one. There were rumours of this being “music one can’t dance to”, different rhythms in every bar and so on – typically artistic and creating a mystique about themselves (as per the facebook bage). That is not the case. Instrumental to the point of being progressive, thumping beats and not much evidence of non dancing going on! To the contrary, many are whirling away…

Zaardvark Pedals

What does stand out is the dominance of sounds being generated by guitarist Mark, and the amazing array of pedals needed to create the effects, to the envy of some of the other guitarists present. Talking to him afterwards, it takes effort and concentration, but worth it!

Halfway through one long number, drummer Dave uses a bass break to turn his snare upside down, and plays it as a djembe. Overall, I’m impressed and loving it and would recommend them to anyone who loves their music instrumentally flavoured, and slightly more trippy than chilled.

Achilles are the closer here in Champions tonight; with so much relying on so many sound generations they take slightly longer than the norm to setup, but it’s worth it.

Achilles Champions

 

 The music is again instrumental, sax led with overlays of synth and keys, underwritten by very melodic bass tunes, and a sprinkling of synth-esque guitar. The whole being so polished-sounding that one can forget it’s not tunes that have been worked over for hours for a recording, its all being produced live in front of the audience.

As for Zaardvark, the case could be made that the tunes that Achilles put together again isn’t music to dance to; my counter-argument: the driving drumming and the bass riffs make vibrating and gyrating nigh on impossible. An amazing act to see, and it easy to see how Achilles wowed everyone at the 2009 Dorest Music Awards.