Fox And The Law / The Greasy Slicks / Cultural Other / A R T E L S [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 20/9/14]
Last night was a reset-hitting moment for a venue whose continued survival was confirmed just over 24 hours previously. Vintage swing music played in the background while earlycomers gathered around a table laden with instruments, effect boxes, microphones, an iPad, and even fairy lights to await the arrival of first act, A R T E L S.
A R T E L S
Making their presence known via gently swelling synth pads and delicate digital chimes before pushing gracefully through a set of tunes that Frou Frou would have been proud to have penned, A R T E L S clearly knew how to capture an audience’s attention from note one. Not bad, considering this was their first ever show.
Musically speaking, imagine Imogen Heap and two co-conspirators employing rich electronics, precisely-balanced guitar, delicate violin, and Kraftwerkian electronic percussion, and you pretty much have it. More than anything, dynamics were the name of the game here, with proceedings building up to a raging climactic song full of tribal beats and intensely passionate vocals and cutting off to rapturous applause. If this is only the beginning, it’s going to be very interesting to see where A R T E L S are in a few years’ time.
Thanks to the Boileroom’s much-too-effective soundproofing and a distracting Belgian, I missed Cultural Other’s first two songs – but what I did hear and see was seriously impressive. Blending late-nineties alt-metal (does that count as ‘classic rock’ yet?) with modern grooves, aching solos, a bit of progressive odd-time intricacy and impressively dextrous bass work, Cultural Other obviously have what it takes to own a song, a stage, and audience, and an entire room.
However, at this point it seems like Cultural Other are still working to find a definitive sound that satisfies them. The moments where it all clicked and the full band threw themselves headfirst into unrestrained riffage (complete with appropriate rock-star poses) were fucking amazing – but at other points their enthusiasm seemed to flag, suggesting a lack of satisfaction with the material. To me, this isn’t so much a flaw as an indicator of perfectionism; I’ve no doubt that Cultural Other’s next evolutionary stage will yield something truly immense.
The Greasy Slicks
Christ. Things really picked up here in a big way. Very few local performers can match the Greasy Slicks in terms of sheer authentic intensity. This was blues rock as it was always meant to be performed.
The Greasy Slicks’ tunes may have retro cores, but they’re rounded off by modern touches, youthful energy, and virtuosic musicianship. Hypnotic licks and slinky solos were met with spontaneous whoops and cheers, while the silent minority looked ready to start a frenzied and sweaty-backed orgy. The Greasy Slicks’ lone heckler said it best: “That’s what I call babymakin’ music!”
Fox And The Law
Although the Greasy Slicks may have very little local competition, Fox And The Law are far from local. Hailing from Seattle and importing their own take on rough-edged old school rock ‘n’ roll, Fox And The Law’s set was a shot of pure adrenaline-fuelled fun. Irresistible songs; boundless energy; a lead guitarist randomly pulled offstage and held aloft by the crowd while having his nipples tweaked mid-solo; and a not-to-be-outdone crowdsurfing frontman who wound up walking on the ceiling all made this an unforgettable showing.
Every mile of Fox And The Law’s journey was worth it for this.
Respect as always to Failure By Design Records, and the Boileroom team for bouncing back so quickly from the darkest period in the venue’s history.
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