Live: OK Pilot – Robbin’s Well Leamington Spa, 24/11/10

NB: I apologise for the shitty photo editing – my computer decided to be slow and didn’t like Photoshop, so I had to make do with Photobucket’s online tools. Whatever, it’s totally punk rock and DIY.

Tuesday is clearly not a good time to put on a gig. For a start, I had to wait half an hour for the bus as it didn’t show up. When I finally got there, as I wandered down the stairs to the basement part of Robbins Well, I saw Punksoc, people from bands and well… not many other people. A few of Kourosh’s (vocalist of Heads Will Roll) friends, who were clearly not into this kind of thing, appeared, looking more than a little bewildered. The basement show is a little more impressive when there’s more than thirty people in the room, but still, there’s always something exciting about tiny, intimate shows. We just had to make sure we crowded right round at the front.

There were just three bands playing tonight (which was advantageous for me as it meant not missing any buses), which could have also contributed to the relatively small audience. We all moved forwards so it looked like there were more of us, and Heads Will Roll took the stage.

For the first band on, this was a little intense. HWR play awesome metal-influenced hardcore, and as was stated on the Facebook events page for the gig, it really is ‘the music of nightmares’; Kourosh’s deep growls are completely unexpected and wonderfully terrifying. Despite a slight bass problem at the beginning of the set, the band played fantastically. The lack of audience was perhaps an advantage for Kourosh, who roamed through the audience and provided some much required energy to the room. Plus songs about bikes are always good and their drummer has one hell of an awesome beard. At the end of their set, I watched curiously while Kourosh’s friends left with slightly perturbed glances to each other. That’s the mark of good hardcore.

Next up were Company L, hailing from South London.

I’m told that these guys are the new project of Mike Scott, who used to be in Phinius Gage and should therefore be good. Unfortunately, I suck when it comes to knowing the British scene these days and therefore had no idea who either Phinius Gage, Mike Scott or this band that were about to be on were, so I nodded and decided to form my own opinion. Fortunately, it was a very good one, because Company L are just great. Awesome melodic punk with an edge and just generally pretty sweet. I’d hardly call Mike Scott an enigmatic frontman, but there’s something about him that’s just cool. They played a fantastic set, and I’d definitely go see them again. Also, kudos to their new guitarist Hannah, as it was only her third show with the band and played fantastically – a real inspiration to girl guitarists everywhere!

It soon came to headliners OK Pilot. I was pretty excited about this, being the only band I’ve seen recently that I’d actually heard of before the night.

I was not disappointed in the slightest, as they were absolutely incredible. I’ve always loved the back and forth between both vocalists, and this dynamic works extremely well live. OK Pilot are anything but static live, and despite the restricted space, threw themselves into the set and played pretty much non-stop, giving a energetic and exciting performance. If you’re in the area next time they’re on, I highly recommend that you check them out.

So in conclusion, Tuesdays might not be the best night to put on a gig, but that’s probably the best Tuesday night I’ve had in a long time.

Live: Bridge And Tunnel/Young Livers – Spayce Leamington Spa, 27/4/10

It’s not often that Leamington gets some excellent bands from across the pond (the last was North Lincoln all that long way back in October), but Bridge and Tunnel and Young Livers came on over as part of their UK tour, playing with three British bands. Five bands, five pounds. Not bad, considering. So I headed on over there, bad bus journeys aside, to see what was going on.

But first, allow me to digress. Live reviews are not my strong point. I go to a lot of shows, hence I do live reviews, but unless I write them up on the night, they’re generally not very good. This is one of those ‘not very good’ ones. I also feel kind of limited within the field that I do review – it’s always punk rock. Generally, most punk bands have a very similar performance – of course, there are nuances to every set, but on the whole, it’s a very energetic performance. The bands are usually pretty tight. Typically, it’s hard to dislike a punk set because even if the music isn’t very good, you can almost always give the band merit on their performance, because you know they’re most likely giving it 110% and it shows. Therefore, from here on out (this review excluded because at this point in time, I’ve almost finished it) I am going to try and really think about how to paint this picture to you. Guide’s honour. And so, without further ado…

First band of the night were Verses, a local band. I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t paying that much attention. The room was packed – presumably because there were bands playing that everyone had heard of – and I was straining to tiptoe to see above the crowd of six foot plus giants who surrounded the stage. And as a result, wasn’t as into it as I should have been. That aside, Verses were interesting. I liked to imagine that they were the bastard child of Pelican and Minus The Bear with some shouty shouty vocals in there for good measure. On the whole, what I truly listened to, sounded good. The performance was about as animated as you can get when you’re finger tapping into oblivion and you aren’t David Lee Roth, but on the whole, pretty good. Good way to kick off the night, even if they didn’t fit with the rest of the stuff being played.

Second up were The Amistad. I’ve seen these guys before (and possibly reviewed them before) so I sort of knew what to expect. Upon the release of their new album, they sounded better than ever. The set consisted of new songs and crowd favourites and was very good. I suppose in more detail, the new songs sound very much like the old ones, but that doesn’t matter because it’s all good. Seriously, check out that Myspace and give them a listen. I’m a sucker for gruff vocals, and let me tell you, they were gruff. I was not dissatisfied. Buy the album, they’re nice guys.

OK Pilot were back again and on fine form. I know fuck all about the British scene these days – I’m still stuck in the 80s or in Gainesville, Florida when it comes to my regular listening – but I do know that OK Pilot are pretty fucking awesome. They’ve got a real presence when playing live and the ferocity of their songs translates well to the stage. Everyone was really psyched to see them, myself included and came away happy. A few tracks off the EP I have were played, others were great… actually, do OK Pilot have a full length? I need to investigate this. And you do too. If you get a chance to go and see OK Pilot, please go and do so.

Young Livers were the penultimate band that night, having supported Bridge and Tunnel throughout their European tour. Despite my generally not terrible knowledge about American punk rock, I’d never heard of Young Livers. By the end of the set, I wish I’d heard of them sooner. They play a wonderful brand of really upfront and forceful punk rock. I’d say ‘with an edge’, but the very notion of punk rock is that it’s edgy, so instead, I’ll say that they were excessively interesting. All throughout their set, they had a strange dialogue between a number of different people threaded (pre-recorded, might I add). The closest I can get to describing it is that it sounded a little bit like the girl talking at the end of Affliction by AFI. I didn’t get a word that was being said, but it fitted perfectly with the music. Some great dual vocalist work going on and in general, an excellent set.

And finally, Bridge and Tunnel. The tour was in support of their new album and the new tracks they did play sounded pretty awesome. Admittedly, I haven’t heard much of their material (I have East/West on the way, but I’ve been relying off Myspace/Punknews streams for the time being), but it can be best described as intelligent shit. They’ve got the passion and energy of an 80s hardcore band straight out of DC, but it sounds far more melodic and has way better lyrics. It was a reasonably mellow set but with plenty of drive. Guitarist Rachel has some of the maddest tapping skills I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Coheed and Cambria before. Absolutely mindblowing. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of the set, which was actually rather short, but that was the only disappointment of the evening. I can say with all honesty that every band was good, if not great, that night and that yes, we do have a good scene. As OK Pilot said, we have a good scene in Leamington and if we keep it going, people will keep playing. And with shows like this, I don’t think we’ll have much of a problem.