Samstag, 12. April 2014

Gig Review: Nightmares Become Me presents carpe carmina live at The Enterprise, Camden (April 5th): An exciting, enterprising, surprising and striking music night!

Live shows are the crowning of music making. It's where musicians prove themselves, excel and grow. It's where passion and energy is staged, literally. It's also where the stage is set for powerful, insistent performances of the artists' work, for daring renditions, alternations and variations in sound. It's where everything gets a little more 'real', expressive and tangible, where listeners are ultimately won over.  It's the moment where music is breathed life into. For me, live shows are an intense, since unfamiliar and rare experience, therefore a cherished and gladly embraced opportunity to fully indulge in what is a worthwhile and remarkable moment of authenticity and musical magic, authenticity as the sound that lures the listeners in, is unaltered, pure and the immediate outcome of the presented musicianship, musical magic as the performance is absorbing, haunting and acutely ringing, in the best case (my ears were still buzzing even 7 hours after 'Nightmares Become Me presents carpe carmina' took place - not only due to the volume of sound but foremost due the quality of live sets that night!). Tension, anticipation, vigor and spirit on stage, catchy, dynamic, meaningful and rousing songs that cast a spell on you, it all comes together, comes upon you, makes for a memorable time, makes for a captivating atmosphere of sound. It's what makes live music such a pleasure, such an adventure and trenchant experience.

Being witness of the realization of 'Nightmares Become Me presents carpe carmina' has been an once in a lifetime experience, one I will hold dear, will remember for good (there might be a sequel of it though, as my love and appreciation for the bands who performed is of the enduring kind, as I have a generally widespread liking in respect to music and there still are quite a few UK bands I'd love to see perform, my favourite one for instance, High/Low). The musicians involved - The Knievel Dead, the Unassisted, No One Sun and Hates Note(s), also the night's acoustic opening act Ciderbeard Joe (Joe Ressington) - put on a striking show, raised the audience's interest and enthusiasm, got some people dancing and singing along even (I give Bee great credit for being so excited about and supportive of the live acts!) All in all, it has been a great vibe at The Enterprise: people got lost in the music, that has been presented in a rather controlled manner, but diversified, intensified throughout the individual sets, throughout the night, people showed delight in the dynamic, dashing and melodious staging of songs and enjoyed the singular presentations of tracks, some more, some less. There has been indeed an audible difference in quality but it has been a solid and imposing arrangement of live sets in its entirety, one that can only be applauded to.

Ciderbeard Joe presents gentle but expressive and
dynamic acoustic compositions

Ciderbeard Joe opened the night with a mellow and ambient acoustic set. Highlighting the raspy and vigorous vocals of Joe, the guitar arrangement came in laid-back, melancholically longing - stressed by the sentimental and perceptive lyrical contents most of his compositions depicted - yet atmospheric and bracing. For 20 minutes it has been just him and his guitar to capture the audience, and it sufficed. It has been not one of these moments when music takes you by storm, yet both Joe's powerful voice, the expressive lyrics of his songs and his refreshing, authentic presence on stage (for instance when he admitted freely that he needed help with the lyrics, later on joked about the pending closure of his set to make room for the 'anticipated live acts') definitely kept me interested and left me wanting to check on his music right after. Since Odel (the vocalist of The Knievel Dead) told me Joe and him have been in a band before together, with Joe on drums, I wondered how songs such as 'Daddy Longleg' - the one song of the set that kept lingering on my mind - sounded in 'full instrumental'-gear, and my oh my, it sounds imposing (remember this is being said by someone with a huge soft spot for acoustics!).

Hate Note(s) performs as an solo artist for the first time - whilst passion
and talent is notable, the artistic ease and charisma is missing

Next up was Kevin Deans from Hate Note(s), destined to make the crowd dance with electrifying and upbeat, vivacious electronic tracks. Songs such as 'Elizabeth' and 'How Does It Feel' sure did the compositional credo partly justice, as they were catchy in sound, dynamic and vivifying in rhythm; yet Kevin's set missed to infect the audience with the sparkling and spirited enthusiasm I expected. HateNote(s) was really trying, put heart and soul into his performance but one couldn't help but notice he was reserved, slightly uneasy on stage, which sure can be credited to the band's bassist calling it a day only a few weeks before this gig took place, and to some technical issues Kevin faced during his set. Not the best performance that night as it mostly lacked constancy, harmony and vigor in sound, neither the best performance of Hate Note(s), I'm afraid. But I remain convinced that the band's the solo artist's live show is one not to underestimate, and look forward to see Kevin perform again, when he has adapted to the new 'constellation' of Hate Note(s). Major props to him already for not cancelling his music contribution to carpe carmina live!

No One Sun stir with rousing, catchy yet soulful songs and prompt
the audience to sing and dance along to the music

One of the night's magical music moments sure have been granted due to the charming and involving vocal harmonies that defined and accentuated No One Sun's performance. With Nick's impressive vocal volume, the luring and smooth, still rousing backing vocals, provided by Jamie and Gary, slipping in, and the anthemic feel of each song performed, the indie rock/pop ensemble really got the crowd going, singing and dancing along. Ponderous, vehement drum beats made a thrilling mark (it has been Craig, the band's drummer, who made me grow fond of No One Sun, the vocal quality made me fall for their music completely then), yet each instrumentalist and vocalist succeeded in showing off their skills. It was a harmonic and ingratiating set, the audience really enjoyed, especially since the rock/pop outfit presented a few new songs - 'Heads & Volleys' for instance, which captured due to rising vocals, fascinating instrumental dynamics and infectious, yet smoothly alluring melodic patterns. Finishing their set with my absolute favourite track, 'Home', a mellow, sensitive song of intense and stirring vibrancy nonetheless, it has shown once more that the band's genre mixture holds ready energetic and soulful, enduringly winning characteristics, one can't escape from. At least I can't, and having a look around that night, the excitement of the audience proved me right.

The Unassisted in action, raising a sonorous, dark and vigorous sound (Trust A Fox Photography sure would have captured ALL band members on camera...) 

The 'Revolution' starts on April 18th
Being told it has been the Unassisted's first gig in london, that Jason gets nervous looking at all the faces in the audience whilst performing, therefore needs to be a bit tipsy to get rid of his diffidence, as well as having pretty high expectations of their set (Lee and Bee have fueled my excitement for the Manchester rock trio) the band sure had to prove a point, to prove themselves actually. And what a commanding, grand london debut it has been (speaking of debut, the Unassisted gonna launch their debut EP 'Revolution' on April 18th in Manchester at Sound Control, and this is sure no gig to be missed!). 

From the very beginning, the alternative rock outfit wrapped the audience in a dim yet dynamic, incisive and urgent tonal coat, opening with a fan favourite - 'Hands Dance Hands'. Jason's dark and sonorous vocal performance, his edgy timbre imbued not only the venue, but also one's ears, the audacious, vibrant and pungent sound of their music, the tenebrous and deep-toned bass intersections, the feisty, grave and clashing drum beats, invited to dance in high-spirits. And even though Jason seemed to be bemused, at times 'introverted' during the set, his riffage and vocals resonated in a trenchant and heavy, blurry manner, presented great hooks and a dashing, deep sound. 'Back To Bass' closed the Unassisted's orotund and vigorous set, and whereas Jason lost his micro during the performance once (he covered it with aplomb and confidence, kudos to him and my twin sister who helped to fix the 'mircophone mess'), the band as a whole sure won over lots of people's hearts at The Enterprise.

The Knievel Dead put on a spell binding, tonally spectacular live show

Save the best for last, it's said. And I was looking forward to The Knievel Dead's performance the most indeed, especially since their approach to and execution of music is something different, extremely expressive and evocative yet puzzling, diffuse and haunting at the same time. I obviously expected a lot, then again I didn't know what to expect at all. In hindsight, the band's set was an indescribable and intense musical experience: they might not have electrified the crowd the way the Unassisted did only minutes before - with tonal urge, with a staggering, insistently sweeping set - but unmistakably put the audience under a spell through both the gloomy, dizzy atmosphere their music evoked and the possessive, hypnotising charisma they had whilst showcasing their songs. Odel's incisive, enigmatic vocals sharpened the overall dim and absorbing sound of The Knievel Dead (e.g. 'Coming After You'), edged the artful and darkened arrangements (e.g. 'Psychosis'), however didn't allow to miss the minimalist, albeit atmospheric, stage show of theirs. Watching them perform it became apparent that the band is well aware of their daring, characteristic sound, therefore keeps it straight and simple onstage. And that was well-received by the listeners.

A huge thank you to those who made this gig happen! What a memorable music night it has been.

Go see musicians live, is my advice. It's where music is taken to another level, where atmosphere and sound create something inenarrable, something inevitably mesmerizing. Live shows are the artists' testimony of being both willing to, passionate about evolving to their full potential as musicians, of being eager to organize events that celebrate and stage the unaltered and essential beauty of music. Thus, yes, live music is worth your appreciation, your respect, gigs are worth your attendance. Hence don't miss out on live music for too long, be there, be present, for god's sake, support people who are not only organized, but dedicated and talented enough to make a lasting impression on you and your musical taste. Go see musicians live, preferably those mentioned above, as you're in for a 'music' treat indeed!

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