ACODA / Wicked Snakes / CITIES [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 2/6/14]
When two of the bands on a three-band bill spell their names in full caps, you know – or, at least, hope – that it’s going to be a) LOUD, and b) EPIC.
Last night was both loud and epic. I’ve seen some great bands over the last few nights, but this show topped the lot. A range of rock styles were unleashed, and between-set conversations were had about honey badgers, Morgan Freeman on helium, housemates sharing their homemade porn (this was a conversation topic, not something that happened at the show), and a band that don’t exist called Sex Rambo. At the end of this review, I’ll try to sum up how epic this all was in mere words. But for now…
I thought this set was pretty decent. CITIES definitely have a lot of potential, but judging from their stage presence it still looks like early days for these guys. They know how to play and write songs, but the overall impression was of an unsure band still finding their way. CITIES don’t look comfortable onstage yet, and movement-wise it was all a bit too polite. CITIES are big guys, clearly capable of owning a stage – but before they can do that, they have to get outside themselves a bit and give themselves permission to just rock the fuck out and not give a shit what the people watching think.
This is going to sound massively counterintuitive, but the less you care about what I think, the more likely I am to love your set. Being yourself naturally leaves you more open and vulnerable to negative criticism and snarky bullshit, but it may help to remember that most hostility in the music world comes from jealousy, not any actual failing or weakness on the part of the person on the receiving end.
These guys know a thing or two about rock history, for sure. There’s something for everyone in Wicked Snakes’ sound: a healthy helping of Led Zep-inspired ’90s alt-rock à la Rage Against The Machine; a good dose of grunge; and Pantera-mating-musically-with-Queens-of-the-Stone-Age moments. Guitar-wise it was a real winner – a great, thick tone with effectively employed effects bringing Tom Morello to mind on a regular basis. That, for me, is A Very Good Thing!
When Wicked Snakes’ new songs were unleashed, however, things changed. Not in terms of quality – the new tracks are pretty damn awesome too. But there was a clear divide between old and new. One new tune hinted at serious mathcore and the influence of The Dillinger Escape Plan, while another sounded like Radiohead fronted by the vocalist from The Fall before breaking into a Red Hot Chili Peppers bridge section and a tasty John Frusciante solo. Another tune merged Chickenfoot with Queens of the Stone Age – and that tune was great as well. The overall effect, however, was one of a band still struggling to find a sound to call their own.
Wicked Snakes have reached a point that I’ve seen many times over by now. They know how to channel their influences effectively and even merge multiple styles over the course of a song that still sounds fine. The next step from here is the discovery of a unique sound that Wicked Snakes can call their own. They’re not quite there yet, but it’s just a matter of time. It’ll be very interesting – not to mention bloody exciting – to see where Wicked Snakes take themselves next.
Well, god-fucking-damn. ACODA are, without a shadow of a doubt, the fully-fledged, wings-spread, ultra-professional real deal. ACODA know that for the duration of their set, the stage is theirs – and sound-wise, they know their place (broodingly dark tunes sitting right on the border between the rock and metal realms, with a bit of math and prog spice). Image-wise they have it down, and instrumentally they are a bunch of beasts. ACODA’s drummer alone can project his sound so well that even back in the middle of the venue you can feel his kick drums mercilessly brutalising your guts. To sum it up, these guys are so talented that it’s just fucking unfair on everyone else.
If you’re in a band, and that band isn’t ACODA, it’s time to step up. It’s just that simple.
Overall, I loved this set so much that in order to properly convey how incredible it was, I’d have to say it in French. The problem with that idea is that I don’t speak much French, and using a foreign-language sentence in an English-language rock review is one of the worst head-up-the-ass pretentious-writer clichés of all time.
Will I do this? …Really? Fuck it.
J’adore ACODA! Ils sont putain de génial!
If you need me, I’ll be cringing so hard from writing those sentences that I won’t be able to show my face in public ever again. If you see a longhaired dude with his head in his hands at the Boileroom tomorrow evening, come say hi and tell me it’s all going to be ok.
Big love as usual to the Boileroom team for an immense show, especially Lydia and Duncan for booking it and Olly Dexter for the standard awesome sound.
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