Promoter: HKC Music

Date: Tuesday 22nd October 2013

Venue: The Railway, Winchester

Bands: Bearded Youth Quest, Heights, Glass Mazes, Loki

 

The title will make sense…I promise.

 

 

Week 2 returning to The Railway and it’s another foray into the land of the progressive and the legitimately mental. This time round less in the ambient sphere and more towards the ‘so batshit it makes my brain feel funny’ world of math rock. I came here tonight wanting something a tad different and, better or worse, that’s sure as shit what I got.

DSC_0389 An absolute storm was raging outside (seriously, car alarms went off the thunder was so loud) but that did nothing to deter this select few band of die hard music lovers from coming to The Railway. We stood, soaking wet, in expectation of what was to come and, after a fair bit of shivering not helped by the eager air conditioning onstage, Loki arrived. Whilst being the very dictionary definition of unassuming, the 3 piece Loki seemed to draw in plenty of locals who thoroughly appreciated the alt-rock tunes spilling forth from the speakers. I’m sorry to say, in honesty, I was not one of this appreciative majority. While the music definitely had a distinctive rhythm to it, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer simplicity of the riffs delivered in this instrumental medley. With vocals over the top, any of these songs would function perfectly well as a straightforward Alt song but I couldn’t really find anything about it to justify the shift to instrumentals, an element was removed and nothing substantial was put in its place. Added to this was (and I shudder to use the word) a distinct hipster vibe coming from the band, from the disaffected way the bassist announced each song, as i he didn”t really want to be there, through to faux-witty song titles like ‘Untitled 19’ and ‘Lame’ (which ironically, turned out to be one of their better songs). This may have got appreciation from the crowd, but without anything more substantial or different to sink my teeth into, this just wasn’t for me.

DSC_0443 Right, that’s out of the way, on to something properly bonkers. This time round, how about a three piece math rock band with a bassist who has known the songs for less than 24 hours? That’s right! It’s time for Glass Mazes. Having lost their previous bassist for personal reasons, most bands would have pulled out of the night but not these nutters, Mazes instead opted to draft in Ed Adams and teach him as many songs as possible in one evening. Sure enough, the set was a little rough around the edges with Adams occassionally sporting a rabbit in the headlights look but there was a great amount of likability to these three guys just having a laugh at how monumentally tits up the whole thing could potentially go. Inter song banter was good for a laugh, and watching the drummer describe to the bassist which song was next by shouting the riff was a moment of unintentional comedy gold.

DSC_0472Aside from this silliness, the songs largely leaned more towards a punk vibe than a math one with a frenetic song structure punctured by the dual vocals of guitarist Thomas Hill and drummer Kurt Phillips. That said we did have an occassional flurry of math rock madness, mostly in slower sections which counterbalanced the punky energy of the more upbeat moments, and really showed how comfortable the band were in whichever time signature they chose to inhabit. Whilst not as stunningly spectacular as other bands who may have graced the stage, Glass Mazes were a thoroughly enjoyable trio who deserve plenty of praise for an unpretentious approach to what can be a pretentious genre. Big round of applause to Ed too, that guy’s fucking epic.

DSC_0491 Lead support now and it’s time for a return with Heights who previously graced my prescence at the HKC All Dayer back in July. In a feat of stripping it down a touch, Heights’ more ambient approach to progressive music was a welcome step back from the fiery energy of their predecessors. In the abscence of a vocalist, Al Heslop’s guitar did all the singing that was neccessary to convey meaning and his emotive playing style really captured an essence which overt technicality can often omit, whilst at the same time never being too simple.

DSC_0505 In the lead support slot Heights had more of a chance to expand their journey than their previous foray in the All Dayer and created a more complete sounding sound as a result, with bassist John Hopkin laying down some rhythms between funky and technical (whilst not detracting from the mood of course) and drummer Jamie Postones applying every kind of beat from the staccato to the crashing. If you like your music emotional with a stripped down approach these are the guys for you. If not, well, these are not the guys for you. How’s that for stripped down?

DSC_0530 Were the headliners, the much talked about Bearded Youth Quest, going to sport this same type of instrumental journey? Were they going to have a punky energy and flare? Were they going to show us how it’s really done? The answer to all three is a resounding yes. BYQ had landed and it was pretty damn epic. Densely polyrhythmic yet distinctly catchy, the ten legged math rock machine lurched into life and propelled our minds into exactly what you can do with the right level of nutter. Slow moments were distinctly musical and sweeping, occassionally even sweet or with lashings of ska, and the high energy numbers and passages tore across the room like a lightning bolt, zig-zagging whichever way it fucking felt like.

DSC_0626Whilst most of the band stood their ground, guitarist and quasi-frontman James Hollins was like a man possessed as he flitted from one side to another with the sort of energy a frenetically lively set like their’s deserved. Whilst Jolyon Veitch’s bass provided one hell of a funky underlay and Andy Baker’s drums sizzled with syncopated brilliance, the triple guitar attack of Hollins, Sam Marsh and Perry Sears could riff and tap and dazzle right up to the very cosmos. Three guitars can sometimes seem excessive onstage but BYQ have cracked the formula and found a medium where each can play something different and the resultant sound is not an unmitigated mess. Throw into this mix a song titled Banana Flip Flop (yup, told you the title would eventually make sense) , where the only vocals are the phrase itself shouted a la football hooligan, and you have an utterly winning formula. Musically, these guys do whatever they want, and if this is what they want I’m not going to stop them.

It was dry by the time we left the venue so we can only assume that God was happy with what had happened and had called off the Apocalyptic flood. Well done God, I applaud your taste in music…can we have Hendrix back now?

Worth a try I guess?

 

BANANA FLIP FLOP!

Summing Up

Loki: 3/10
Glass Mazes: 7/10
Heights: 8/10
Bearded Youth Quest: 9/10

 

All Photos courtesy of Captain Metal Photography © 2013

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