More bar staff than punters. Not the most widely recognised sign of the makings of a great gig. But an optimist would try to put a positive spin on the outright awkwardness that was to be this evening of live music; it could be seen as an ‘intimate’ (practically private) gig from an up-and-coming band with a bit of a buzz about them as of late Plus there were some decent support acts on the bill (judging from their respective MySpace pages, at least. Or equally the night could be a complete disaster of obliged clapping and awkward soundchecks.
“This is shambolic” declares the guitarist of Welsh indie math-rock four-piece ‘Rico & the Thieves’. And he wasn’t far wrong (in the least offensive way possible).
“Thanks Flashguns” he continues, with the support of the vocalist; “Yeah. Thanks, Flashguns”.
‘Why all the hate?’ you may wonder. It had something to do with Rico & the Thieves wanting to borrow Flashguns drum-kit, but not being able to for some reason or another, so the band were forced to continue without their drummer who, seemingly quite enjoyably, observed with pint in hand from the crowd (if you can call a support band and four spectators a crowd).
Like me before this gig, you may have never heard a math-rock band without a drummer before… It is as odd as you may be imagining. And yet, despite its oddness, Rico & the Thieves still had something going for them. The blipping finger-picked guitar work (heard in bands such as ‘Battles’ and ‘Giraffes? Giraffes!’) worked well with nice use of acoustic bass and impressive vocals from the seated singer; all of which would have, presumably, been well accompanied with some crashing fast-paced drumming. Definitely making the best of a bad situation.
Second support act, the also local ‘Cat Mouse Cat’, had no such percussion-based woes having brought their only drum themselves, but were still faced with the daunting task of playing a set to essentially no one. Wasting no time, the Cardiff five-piece launched straight into their fun take on folk-pop, along similar lines to ‘The Voluntary Butler Scheme’ and ‘Slow Club’, bringing a smile to at least one fifth of the crowd’s faces (… mine). ‘Cat Mouse Cat’ played an enjoyable and (possibly ironically) enthusiastic set that was deserving of a larger audience, which they’ll hopefully be able to achieve when supporting ‘Innercity Pirates’ on 31st July (here). Check their MySpace out here to enjoy some lesser-known twee folk pop.
Finally up were the somewhat stunned (from the complete lack of people) figures of four teenage boarding school lads that go by the name of Flashguns. The four-piece came on stage smartly dressed (3 out of 4 ain’t bad), with lights shining brightly at their youthful, stubble-free faces. But don’t let their boyish looks fool you; for Flashguns are no child’s play. Cruising effortlessly from sound-check to show-time, they were a step above all else we had heard, with no disrespect meant to either of the support acts, but more a compliment to the ever-progressing sound of Flashguns.
“The light is in my eyes so I can’t really see how many of you are out there”, claims frontman Sam Johnston, “But maybe that’s a good thing”.
Good try, Sam, but we know you knew how few of us there were, and for that we admire you and your stage presence and confidence. You see, front-man, Sam (vocals and guitar), has one of those incredibly energetic, sometimes incredibly angering, stage presences that lends itself to be fronting big, big bands on big, big stages; just the place Flashguns have their sights set. And they could be there in the not-too-distant future if they can continue to grow at the rate they have managed thus far. The progression of the recently released ‘Matching Hearts Similar Parts EP’ from popular early recordings such as ‘Locarno’ is undeniable, and the band themselves recognise this. Locarno, a fairly popular hit online, wasn’t even included on the set-list, demonstrating the band’s confidence in their newer stuff, and this doesn’t come without good reason. The new stuff is really quite good. Overall, Flashguns performed a show far surpassing their years as individuals and as a band; with a very professional, musically very strong, and generally simply fucking loud show enjoyed by all 5 of the crowd.