Monday, January 02, 2006

Misty's Big Adventure, Dog Food, Kate Thompson

Misty's Big AdventureI started writing a post about my adventures in music in 2005 and while it didn't really go anywhere (thanks to my not really keeping track of the absurd amount of tunes that came my way) it was clear that Misty's Big Adventure were my band-of-the-year. For a local I was something of a late-comer, only hearing about them in 2004 and not actually seeing them perform until April, but after that I was 100% sold and saw them another three times, confirming myself as A Big Fan. I've evangelised them like crazy and even wrote the bulk of their Wikipedia entry so it was kinda fitting that on December 23rd my final gig of the year, the last two months of which have been somewhat gig-crazy, should be seeing Misty's play at the Jug for the fifth time.

It's been quite a mad year for them too, pushing the tricky transformation from quirky local act to national phenomena and thanks to a punishing touring schedule (at least 100 gigs) along with an excellent new album they look like they might just achieve this because anyone with a soul can't help but be converted to the cause once they've seen them perform. It's rare that the modern world allows such a thing to happen but it appears to be happening for them, and that is a good thing.

Of course this success does have one downside and that is, after years of playing at the Jug of Ale in Moseley, their "spiritual home" really can't contain them anymore, which is a big shame as seeing them play in any of the larger venues in Birmingham would just be wrong, so unless they have a massive popularity drop in the new year (along with hell freezing over) this could well have been the last time they play there, not just because they sold out to capacity but because everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone all the way to the back, was dancing like a monkey and it was hotter than hell.

Kate ThompsonBut I'm getting ahead of myself. The support tonight was interesting. Misty's always seem to pick their support acts but the two bands playing tonight really seemed to be part of the Misty's extended family and it felt a little like the audience was getting on stage. The first band were a five-piece doing their first ever gig and didn't even have a name so I'll call them The Kate Thompson Experience, since, as I found out later, that was the name of the lead singer. They set up looking kinda nervous, giving he impression of a baby band taking their first faltering steps, but what they produced was quite astounding. Given that they were part of the Misty's posse they had many friends in the audience who whooped their support but as the set progressed this applause increased as everyone was completely sold on them. The songs ranged from sweet little ditties about love and fluffy things to pieces that brought to mind The Dresden Dolls, mainly for Kate's astonishing voice, and the band were incredibly tight for a first gig, bringing in clarinets (two of them) and toys to the mix with aplomb. But what really made the set for me was Kate's reaction to the audience's reaction - with a massive grin she was completely taken aback. I really hope Kate and her band do many more gigs in 2006 as I think they're really onto something here.

Dog FoodNext up were Dog Food who I'd heard of before but never seen. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure they've been around about as long as Misty's and certainly share a bouncy ska-esque vibe along with being a little silly with hats and wigs and, yes, toys that make sounds. But on the whole they were musically accomplished and very danceable. As they came on I was sure I knew the singer from somewhere and put it down to a similarity to someone I know from the small press comics scene but it still bugged me. A couple of days later I realised I'd seen him at the front during other Misty's gigs and even have a photo of the back of his head from September.

Misty's Big AdventureThe biggest problem with seeing these two bands was that, good as they were, and they were stunningly good, really setting up the evening perfectly, any memory of what they sounded like was smurshed from my memory by what followed. After so much touring Misty's have perfected their performance to an incredible degree and while this is a wonderful thing it does somewhat negate the idea of introducing other similar acts to their fans. It does mean I have an extra motive to see them again but it occurred to me that when lead singer Gareth's new album is out (The Party Sounds of Grandmaster Gareth - see his MySpace page for samples) a neat idea would be for him to host an evening, playing his Minute Melodies between the acts and introducing them, so I throw that out there... Wadayathink Gareth?

So there's not much I can really say about the Misty's Big Adventure that hasn't been said before. They are at the height of their powers and while seeing them playing to a home crowd is apparently very different to when they're supporting other bands around the country, it's hard to imagine where they can go next. In the meanwhile, though, you really need to see the live, preferably at a sell out gig in the Jug of Ale, Moseley. Can't be beat!

Thanks to the packed and pulsating audience photos were somewhat hard to come by but the best of the bunch can be found here, mainly taken perched on a rickety chair which I then couldn't get down from so proceeded to dance upon. Thankfully it didn't break...

Originally posted here.


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