Saturday, 21 August 2010

Time to be a hater...

Good Shoes
With Wild Palms, Lost Knives and Egyptian Hip Hop
Ruby Lounge 4/12/2009
Rating: 1/5

With a considerable crowd already present (although only me actually willing to stand at the front railing), Egyptian Hip Hop kicked off the night. Their set was different to the prevailing indie norm, but still failed to really stand out. A redundant key part in their second song meant that the set began to lose its kick, and by the fourth song in, there was no energy left. The crescendo of the fourth piece was weirdly compelling, but closing on a ‘Silver Rocket’ rip-off was not a wise choice. Everybody knows Sonic Youth (and indeed rips them off), so it was disappointing to see such a cop-out move from a young band.

Next up was Lost Knives. Whilst they put in a good set (if a little devoid of band chemistry), their overreliance on the EHX Holy Grail’s ‘flerb’ setting left their leads quite samey, and in ‘Static’, their best song, they lifted the riff from ‘I Predict A Riot’. For the most part though, their set was mercifully free of genre stereotypes and included some genuinely exciting riffs and passages. Evidently though they decided that a Sonic Youth ‘let’s make feedback’ section (again!) was necessary. It was, in fact, as tuneless as it was unnecessary. Ten out of then for effort, six out of ten for showmanship, three out of ten for originality.

Third was Wild Palms. More drum machines and synth modules take the stage. I’m beginning to see a pattern. I’ll spoil their ending now by saying there was no Sonic Youth nod, but this definitely endeared me to them. During their best song, ‘Over Time’, there was even a bit of Tom Morello ‘Wake Up’ style extended guitar technique, but this great song was the exception to the rule. In their last song of the night, they become a different band entirely. Gone are the indie-disco trappings; in is a new sense of melody and musical development that for some reason reminds me of the song ‘Rise from the Shadows’ by the last band I saw at the Ruby Lounge, Alberta Cross. Unfortunately, a hi-hat heavy beat does return by the end, but I can still hope that this outstanding number is a new song that represents the future direction of this band. Otherwise, painfully average things are probably to come.

In the Nineteen Sixties, musicians playing electric guitars through amplifiers were beginning to discover that if the volume was high enough, a break up of the signal or ‘distortion’ occurred. This radical shift in tone was hard to emulate at first, because many amplifiers were simply not designed to be pushed so hard, so musicians put magnetic metal like nails into their amps’ speaker cones, or ripped the cones themselves to get the buzzy tone they desired. This revolution was clearly missed by Good Shoes. If they were a colour, with their mellow, unoffensive low-gain sound, they’d be grey. One song in their singer Rhys Jones jumps into the crowd, but the mid tempo dullness of the music makes this act seem strangely comical. The front portion of the crowd don’t care though, and the dedicated fans duly jump around for all the first album songs and are coolly indifferent to the new ones. The band are tight, and the staccato arpeggiated leads set against a constant twang of rhythm guitar is presumably some peoples’ cup of tea, but not mine. If you are already a fan, it is worth saying that they were easily the most energetic band of the night, but that unlike the other bands, I don’t remember a single riff or passage from any of their songs.

Something I'd add to this review that wasn't originally published was that when I got into the venue, a bunch of underage-looking guys in ripped, Topshop-style Nirvana tees were standing around looking at their feet by the door. I wondered how the hell they'd got into the venue, and moreover whether they were serious about those haircuts... don't get me wrong- I've got long, messy hair too, but there is a limit people (unless you are a Slayer fan). Anyway, these kids turned out to be Egyptian Hip Hop. True story.

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