Friday, December 23, 2005

Pelican, Mistress, Una Corda - a gig review

And so it was off to the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham for the Capsule Xmas Party gig for a wodge of rock with two locals and a US import.

Una CordaUna Corda were the first support and it was interesting to see them so soon after Moff Fest. They were still superb and rattled through the set to a room that rapidly filled with new converts and by the end got a rapturous reception. I think they've become my favourite band at the moment, surprisingly beautiful music for such a heavy band, and they have that rare stage presence you often don't get with guitar-based instrumental outfits. Lovely stuff.

During their set I spotted a lot of people with chunky cameras - at least four, maybe five - doing the rounds. I'd noticed this at the last Capsule event I went to as well. Most of the gigs I go to have one or two "professional" camera people (I use quotes because having an expensive camera doesn't make you a pro by any means) but these Medicine Bar events seem to attract them like flies. It's a kinda weird experience, checking out other people's kit with, well, let's be honest, envy really. Don't get me wrong, I love my camera, but standing next to some guy wielding a DSLR with a fancy lens and flash does lead to penis analogies. Speaking of flash, they were all using it so, since I wasn't getting the results I wanted I abandoned my no-flash rule and joined in, with quite spectacular results. I think I might be sold on this now, though it will have to be tempered. Despite Andy (who, being the most active guy on stage, was beaming like a strobe light) saying he didn't notice the cameras I'd imagine it can be fucking annoying having all this going off a couple of feet from your face. But I found my hit ratio increased dramatically so a balance shouldn't be too hard to find. I'd also be curious to see the photos these "pros" are getting, if only so I can learn from them. If any stumble this way, might I point them towards the Birmingham Live Music pool on Flickr, which could do with some more members. Or of course I could just say hello.

MistressAnyway, back to the gig. Next up were Mistress, a local band of the hardcore thrash metal variety. I moved forward but the room was getting rammed so couldn't get to the front, finding myself pretty much in the middle. Suddenly, as the second song kicked off, there was an explosion as the chap right in front of me instigated a mosh pit, joined in a split second by about 10 others who had been waiting, coiled up, for this moment. As they moshed and moshed hard I quickly buried my camera away in its case and took a few steps back. But these few had created quite a space and I noticed a slot right at the front under the singer, so after waiting for a rare quiet moment I marched through (receiving a mere elbow to the mouth) and took my position. I was later informed that being at the front for a Mistress gig is considered somewhat hardcore and while this was probably a mild one for them, what with most of the crowd being here for the less raucous Pelican, it certainly had that war-zone vibe.

Now I'm not a huge thrash metal fan and to be honest wouldn't listen to this kind of thing at home for fun but I fucking loved watching Mistress live, especially at close quarters (there ain't no zoom on those photos). The power and fury they generated was utterly intense and they seem to understand that what they do is vitally important yet has to be fun. And did I detect some tunes in-amongst all the roaring? I think I did, and a thick grin was plastered over my face when it was all over. Magic stuff.

PelicanAnd then to the headliners, Pelican from Chicago, USA. I again found myself right at the front, though this time slightly to the side, right by the speakers that look like fighter jet exhausts, so having been warned that Pelican were loud I put in my ear plugs for the first time at a gig. It was a very strange experience, like being there but not being there, swimming through the physical shock-waves of the dull audio. Not ideal for the listening so I got my photos and moved back to appreciate them properly. Pelican were good, but something wasn't really working for me. There was plenty of power and musicianship going on but it didn't really go anywhere and after about 20 minutes I was starting to think I'd maybe had enough. Maybe I was missing something, I dunno. I was standing next to Doug from Una Corda who reacted to something with a "C'mon!" and raised fist and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what had prompted this.

Fortunately the catching of the last train home saved me from an hour of this stuff, though I did feel a slight pang of regret in not seeing what the guitarist would do with the violin bow I'd seen him wax up. So, a mildly disappointing headliner more than made up for by some stellar support. More Capsule events will be attended next year for sure.

Originally posted here


Blogger Ben said...

Another gig I really should have gone to. Like the sound of Una Corda, and I've read good things about Pelican too. My loss. Doh.

2:40 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home