Envy and Other Sins – Syndicate Bristol, 12/03

The best thing about Propaganda, indeed the redeeming feature, is that it pulls enough PR weight to draw in some big name…people, to do stuff.  I say people since its normally members of bands, doing DJ sets, rather than playing, with their brothers.  Which is nice.  So it was surprising when, as I batted away hands from my drink, (at the other end of which invariably lurked sinister 6ft 3 men with electric black hair), men took the stage!  Not drunks, but men!  Men with guitars!  And waistcoats!

Looking over my furtively scribbled notes (texted, rather.  This is 2008 after all), I  got an idea of what I was thinking, at least at the time.  The tone was ‘Prog’, with allusions towards Pink Floyd, but really more like Interpol due to the noticeable lack of heroin.  Maybe even the Teenagers, thanks to their soft vocals.

The problem is, that these notes are my only strong feelings about them.  A disconcerting mixture is a venue which, frankly, would be a rival to the Academy if it needed to be, in terms of size, and a band that sound like they’re experimenting with some new instruments.  Conventionally referred to as guitars.

There just wasn’t a substance behind it!  There was no oomph, no punch, no je-ne-sais-quois.  Maybe they were overwhelmed after a long string of supporting The Hoosiers, maybe their Sound Engineer left his drink unattended and was at the command of ‘Stuart’ in a quiet cubicle somewhere, or maybe they’re just not very loud.  Images that come to mind are watching a building collapse, wondering when its all going to go down at once.  Warmed Over Chili Peppers, rather than Red Hot.

The vocalist had clearly mastered the indie diphthong , and the bassist stuck out as extraordinarily good.  But what was lacking, and this will always, always be the point of live music, is the melody.  There was no tune, nothing to hook you and lay baby alien song eggs in your mind.  Pleasantly generic; or, to put it another way, nothing more than an evolved form of background static.  I never thought I’d be waiting for Big Dan to come back on, but I was.
But then…

I probably don’t have the right to say anything.  I didn’t prepare myself, and maybe they’re better than I was letting myself believe.  Their Myspace was, I hate to say, far more fruitful.  I didn’t think of the Hoosiers until I saw them as their supporting act, and that was probably missing the link that stopped me ‘getting’ them.  So their single should do well, probably (see below).  But then, I didn’t like Kate Nash, and similar acts have pulled me around.  Having to like the band before you like the band isn’t the right state of affairs, no matter how you look at it.

At least DJ Dan played RATM afterwards.  The comic relief of comparing British indie kids to that French mosh pit was enough to cheer me up plenty.


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