Desert Hearts, Kowalski, Yes Cadets
The legend of Two Step, the local music night in the Limelight, has grown over the past four years. It's been genuinely regarded as an achievement and a stepping stone to greater things when bands have been asked to play the venue. The fourth birthday of Two Step brought almost the entire local music scene glitterati out and it was to be expected: with a lineup featuring Yes Cadets, a revitalised Kowalski and the infamous Desert Hearts a decent turnout was guaranteed.
Yes Cadets have improved greatly over the past few months. Everything seemed to be more professional and polished tonight: Alan's vocals were on the money (except for the occasional yelp) for the most part while the guitar hooks were super. There's a focused energy within the band and while happy go lucky tracks like Charm Offensive will reel the punters in, more complex tracks like Canada will make them stay.
Their debut EP will hopefully live up to expectations as one of the so far unreleased tracks was superb, a slower number that builds nicely and showcases some ghostly synth work as well as some nice drumming.
Kowalski seem stuck in the mud musically at the minute: eager to play their newer material and revel in their new sound but aware of the numerous indie hits in their back catalogue. Coupled with a few technical problems and a general inability to hear Lou's vocals the band seemed to be up against the wall. However, their performance was arguably the best of the night. Japanese Waterfall is indeed a grower of a track and the more guitar orientated outlook on matters certainly pleases this reviewer, while Seesaw and Sunshine State sound as good as they did a few years ago. The synths are still there, but they're no longer the band focus: the guitar riffs are imaginative and the drumming as ever is top notch. It's good to see Kowalski gigging again and we wait with baited breath for the release of a new single and EP.
Desert Hearts have been through more band members than... well, they've had a lot of band members. Leaky from General Fiasco and Stu Bell from Panama Kings joined the act tonight: Charlie Mooney stated they'd only had one practice together, and in all honesty it showed.
When things clicked on stage, they really did: the angst driven Pixies-inspired numbers were thundering and No More Art was easily the track of the set. The band's volatile dark rock has always been their calling card and it was on display tonight. Sadly, the rest of the performance was memorable for the wrong reasons. Songs seemed to just fall apart instead of end, while the onstage antics (throwing guitars to the floor and Charlie nearly falling off the platform) completely distracted the audience from the music at times. The set came to an abrupt end after a trashy punk rock tinged track, just as we hoped things had turned a corner. On the basis of tonight's performance they were disappointing: the optimist in this reviewer wants to chalk it up to an unfamiliar lineup and a one off poor show, but the pessimist fears that the Desert Hearts train may be slowly grinding to a halt.