Sunday, 27 March 2011

Kitten Pyramid /Another Rhythm Jesus / Bullet @ The Star and Garter, Burton 26th March 2011

Review by Pete Callaghan

Somewhere in Burton lurks an innocuous English pub, right in the center of a housing estate. And lurk it did, as if it were hiding behind several houses laughing at me, before I decided to call this game of hide and seek with a venue off and scream “I’m not playing anymore!” like a spoilt ten year old. Once again, it appeared as if I had “rocked up at the local”, yet, these venues are vastly becoming familiar grounds to me and, preferred grounds to be honest. A million miles away from the cavity searches and blinding torchlight of the bigger venues, these smaller, local gigs have a better sense of intimacy between the bands and the spectators. But, I’m not going to spend a second review extolling the virtues of local gigs because sooner or later, you’ll all see where I’m coming from, as those quarter of a billion pound laser shows don’t shine quite as brightly as they once did.

Anyway, after much jostling to find where the bands were actually playing in this venue (upstairs evidently), I headed in to find a small compact room where a handful of people stood waiting and chatting away next to a small stage. I was glad of this, due to thinking that I wasn’t at the gig at all, but instead had travelled to Burton for a head full of confusing directions and a pint of fosters. It wasn’t long before the first band were set-up and ready to go, which for me was happy times, as I am never on time for anything.

But the first band were anything but happy times. I was told just before they got started by one of the crowd that they had no idea what the band were like and this, I thought, did not bode well for the coming performance.

While I’m all up for promoting local bands and passionate musicians doing what they want to do, the way they want to do it, what I’m not down with is bands that shamelessly promote themselves constantly throughout their performance and then leave once they’ve finished their set, not sticking around to hear the other bands they share the line-up with. So as much as I dislike the idea of slating unsigned bands, (if they were signed, I would go to town on them) but Bullet are hereby named and shamed. They need to get their act together and stop thinking they are the only band worth hearing in the Midlands. Oh, if you want to know what their sound was like, if they were a parody of U2, it would have been a funny joke, but unfortunately they weren’t. And it wasn’t.

So after that fiasco, I went to grab another pint, drowning my sorrows in the frothy wetness of the stale ale. In all honesty, and fortunately for me, I had not come all this way just for Bullet, as it were the other two bands I was looking forward to. Another Rhythm Jesus were highly recommended to me on good authority and I had heard a couple of Kitten Pyramid tracks on their Soundcloud before coming, so I was looking forward to progressive psychedelic rock freak-out to pull me out of this despair induced waking coma.

Another Rhythm Jesus did precisely that with their punctuating vocals and blistering guitar screeches. They mix a wide range of the alternative rock format from all eras creating a very timeless sound, which I could quite happily listen to as a hypothetical monkey taps away on an imaginary typewriter ad infinitum. Throughout this primo performance, which was as tight as dick’s headband and as relaxed as dick’s slacks, members of the band mixed up the format by swapping instruments with each other, creating an evolving performance and experience. The highlight was pretty much the whole performance, with killer tracks “Wooden Box” and “Dark Helmet”. Another Rhythm Jesus brings together all the best elements of grunge, noise rock and prog, and fuses them together with an echoing, percussive vocal blend. Like the best fruit based alcoholic cocktail you’ve ever had, delicious and refreshing, but lets you know it means business, because it’s probably got some gin in it that you weren’t aware of.

Last on and headlining were Kitten Pyramid, who, short of lead singer Scott Marson climbing on stage in what looked like his Nan’s Sunday best, are a band which I had checked out and thought I knew what to expect. Evidently, this assumption made a fool of me and all of a sudden I was catapulted into a world where Saturday morning cartoons roam freely and the suns goofy face laughs down on me. The band combines these musical soundtracks with short stories, photography and art; so seeing them live is just part of everything that is going on with them. Yes, Kitten Pyramid sure are odd though, mixing a range of surreal indie, folk, pop, crazed wailing (more about whales shortly) and incessant sampled drum beats. I have never before seen a room so full of happy people, as every member of the audience was grinning from ear to ear, myself included. It’s a wonderfully strange experience as the band takes you on a journey with their soundtrack; through a sketchily drawn world of colours, clouds and pick ‘n’ mix. The last track they played completely shook the foundations of the innocuous pub, getting everyone bumping and grinding along to the pounding drums of “W.H.A.L.E.”... Yes, “W.H.A.L.E” is one hell of a stomping, rampaging tour de force for this band. I would definitely recommend checking out their demo soundtrack, the whole thing is on Soundcloud, so now you have no excuse. And with that, there is only one thing left to shout from the rooftops in a crazed manner and that would be... “WHALE!”

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