Serpentine Smile, others
From the highest peak, to the deepest canyon, they came, wanting to take us all with them. Clutching their instruments of war, they climbed the steps to the stage of battle, and did engage each other in destructive combat...
Tonight is a horrible mixture of the very good, the very poor, and the very mediocre. If such a thing is possible. On the one hand, Serpentine Smile proved that there isn't necessarily strength in numbers, by eschewing the standard band line up for just guitar and drums. But from the skeletal formation, they drag forth all manner of wonderful melodic constructs, occasionally throwing in the odd electronic flourish. Summoning more energy between the two of them than any of the other bands on the bill, Serpentine Smile powered through half an hour of inventive, melodic indie-rock, winning over even the most cold hearted skeptic with their charm and on-stage energy.
Indeed, coming immediately after the Varionis, it's surprising how well they managed to win over the affections of the crowd, which clearly numbers more than a few Varionis fans. The crowd lap up every note the Varionis churn out. Which isn't difficult thanks to the snail's pace at which they perform, and the limpid nature of their music. This is a band who still think that Oasis are at the cutting edge of music, and that all you need for a good time is a pleasantly strummed guitar, something you can tap your toe to, and a bit of attitude, maaaan. Indeed, the singer's desire to adopt Liam Gallagher's street urchin poses and moves leads to him singing almost statically, with his hands in pockets, neck bent back to the mic, just like everyone's favorite Manc. This is blokey music for blokes. And probably their girlfriends.
After the chasm between Serpentine Smile and the Varionis, it's re-assuring to note that Red Like Crimson and Acadian share a common ground: the middle-of-the-road. There is sadly nothing particularly interesting about either band, who both deliver a steadfastly workmanlike performance, of decidedly ordinary songs. There are some pleasant moments here and there, but both bands still look like a work in progress, lacking either the inventiveness of Serpentine Smile, or the misplaced confidence of the Varionis.
A mixed bag, but proof that a little bit of invention will go a long way.