Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rise of Birmingham (2/10/13) Free School, Victories at Sea, Victor, Youth Man

So, last night I decided after a long tiring a day at work that it was still worth going to the rise of Birmingham gig at the library. I've already written about how much i love the library and   it was  nice being able to go there for a gig. The atmosphere was nice and friendly, with people off all ages showing up.

Youth Man were the first band on, and the band that I had come to see. They put on a typically chaotic show. The songs sounded pretty much the same as on record, short sharp punkish blasts driven by frenetic guitar and drum blasts. Kalia Whyte sounds like she could make equally good a soul singer as a punk shouter and during one of the last songs her guitar broke leaving it as just a bass/drums jam.  Youth Man didn't disappoint me at all. 

I'd never heard of Victor and didn't really know what to expect. Initially I wasn't so impressed, compared with Youth Man they had a much denser sound, aided by two more musicians and keyboards. However I was then blown away by the singer as she wailed and flailed around the stage, suddenly this show had become more intense and more captivating. Some great sounding songs were played and while Victor haven't released anything yet from seeing this I can say that they're ones to watch. 

Victories at Sea were probably the closest thing to a proper indie band this night. or at least they were for the first two tracks, after which they gave up the drum kit to rely on keyboard beats. Right from the off it was an energetic performance, aided by cool projections of city landscapes. By this point i was pretty much dancing and taking photos at the same time. Their singer/guitarist played a constant stream of echoed barre chords on top of dense synth sounds and beats. Its a sound that's funky and dance-able yet atmospheric and experimental. 

Free School were the headliners tonight and oddly enough i'd never heard of them before. Musically free school aren't too far off from fellow Birmingham act Greg Bird and Flamingo Flame. Its dark goth tinged yet hard hitting electronica. They started with 'Theme From Free School' which built up suspense until the singer came on stage. They play while wearing creepy bunny masks and their singer gets a black one to wear (along with his Sisters of Mercy T Shirt). The back projection showed clips of the band with masks on which aided the dark unsettling atmosphere of the performance.
At two different points they had two specials guests on with them. The first was a rather scruffy looking Birmingham rapper, and the second an older Jamaican man in a white tracksuit. I had no idea who either of these people are but I've got a feeling that the Jamaican may be a member of steel pulse or something, judging by the crowds reaction to his appearance. I can't say that Free School don't offer variety at their gigs. by the end both Victories at Sea and Free School were playing onstage together, playing an extended jam (incidentally Free School produced, V.A.S's EP). Seeing Free school live is a very unsettling experience but they live up to the hype.

Overall this was a good night and a good introduction to some great new bands. 

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