Live Review – UWS Freshers Music Festival

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UWS Freshers Music Festival

UWS Union, Paisley
30th September 2010

Haven’t done a gig review in ages, so why not break myself back in gently, by reviewing around half a dozen bands at once? This could be messy.
First of all, ways to make me feel old: #1 put me in a room full of young, bright eyed, enthusiastic students. #2 make that room in a student union that didn’t even exist when I was a student at that same University.
The first band I caught were Aspen Tide, opening the upstairs acoustic stage. I’m pretty unfamiliar with the band, but what I caught of their set did enough to encourage further investigation. Aspen Tide are a relatively new band and so far don’t stray too far from anthemic pop/rock templates, but they do it well, particularly in a stripped back acoustic setting. More ones to keep an eye on than fully formed and ready, if Aspen Tide keep working on their songs and find a sound they are comfortable with that is a little more distinctive there’s no reason they can’t find themselves higher up the bill on gigs in future.
Next up were local boys Pacific Theatre, my second time seeing them in a week, having gone along to their split single launch the previous Thursday. On that occasion Fraser from Pacific Theatre was celebrating his birthday and had been introduced to the joys of Bloc’s infamous Balkan shots, this time round he looked less likely to pass out at any moment, probably just as well since he was one of the ones organising things today.
Pacific Theatre already have more than a handful of quality songs and a couple of choruses that almost demand to be sung along to. They aren’t half bad live either, with a bit more of a rough edge on stage than on record which suits them. Now if only I could stop thinking how much their singer reminds me of Kevin Bridges…
Make Sparks are a band that I’d somewhat fallen out of love with. Way back in January they went on my Tips for 2010 list, but for no reason in particular I’ve not paid much attention through the year, except to pick up their last single. Their set, the first time I’ve seen them in ages, was a timely reminder of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. Straight up guitar pop from an incredibly tight band with more hooks than a prize fight, Make Sparks are both a breath of fresh air and a little ray of sunshine, as well as showing that there’s no substitute for hard work. Welcome back to that little place in my heart, it never realised how much it missed you.
Trapped In Kansas were cutting it fine, transport problems meaning they barely arrived in time for their set. Having seen trapped In Kansas plenty of times before, a bit of a clash meant that I only stuck around for the first couple of songs. The couple that I caught were newer material and sounded encouraging.
Ryan Bisland provided the aforementioned schedule clash, since I’ve been meaning to catch one of his gigs for ages, but keep missing them. As I join proceedings Ryan, joined on stage by another guitarist, breaks into a cover of Elbow’s One Day Like This. A bold move really, considering the level of exposure that song has had, but one that works out. What helps is that there is no noticeable dip in quality between the cover and the originals, with Vultures in particular standing out. Battling against an increasing level of chatter in the main bar with just a couple of acoustic guitars is no easy task, but it is a challenge that Ryan and his band rise to. The style is one I don’t normally go for, but the craft and quality of the songs is undeniable.
If I’m not careful Carnivores will think I’m stalking them. If I’m not careful Carnivores will deafen me. I really must stop standing next to the speakers when they play, throughout their set their bass drum made my clothes move, and my drink ripple like a scene from Jurassic Park. Carnivores make one Hell of a noise, and do it brilliantly. Not only that, but they have the song quality in that noise to save them ever becoming one dimensional. Absolutely a band you should see live, but the sensitive out there will want to pack ear plugs.
A minute of The LaFontaines proves to be a minute too long for me. The busy room suggests they have some appeal, just not to me. Let’s just say it wasn’t my thing and move on swiftly.
Kitty the Lion are playing upstairs where the chatter has steadily increased, making this an uphill battle. The band get a bit lost in the noise unfortunately, but do manage to shine through a few times. Songs like Lion In the Bed and Catalytic Converter emerge from the chat as strong and catchy, while Anna Meldrum’s voice is generally hard not to love.
After that the lure of being able to get a bus home instead of walking miles overcame the desire to see the remaining bands, so like the old man I am I headed off, leaving the kids to enjoy Sucioperro.