Kasper Rosa, Axis Of, Rams' Pocket Radio
It's someone's fault. I don't know who, but someone is to blame for the recent trend of "event" gigs. It's no longer enough to just turn up and play your music to a crowd of punters, instead there's an expectation of something special happening. We've seen pole-dancers (Dutch Schultz), cupcake and champagne parties (Silhouette) and mini-festivals (far too many to mention but most recently the Snow Patrol gig in Ward Park). And tonight Kasper Rosa appear to have an on-stage party.
The first on the guestlist are Rams' Pocket Radio, busy working their way up the local ranks at a reasonable rate of knots. Their quiet-loud song composition isn't a startlingly original idea but its always been effective. What does set them apart though is the use of keyboard and piano as the major instrument, a throwback to both old original 1950s rock and roll, particularly in front-man Peter's livewire performance, and 1980s and 1990s industrial music. However it's not all crashing noise, and there is a quiet strength and slow grandeur, a la Sweet Billy Pilgrim in feel if not necessarily in style. Add in the little touches of innovation, a looped violin note acting a bass, and alternating time signatures, and there's more than enough to keep our attention. As has been said before, a band to watch.
Axis Of are, as above, a band to watch. It's rather different to what has gone before, a visceral attack of primal punk feeling with a contemporary willingness to more beyond that genre's limitations. 'Port Na Spaniagh' is reminiscent of Gallows with a classic rock riff allied to the frantic Gang of Four/Jetplane Landing-esque agit-pop. It's this breadth of influences that lifts it above the usual with the aforementioned classic rock, classic punk and post-punk augmented by country tinges like a wilful magpie stealing the shiny things from everywhere, almost like The Fall with their multiple styles centred round a core musical idea. Closing with recent single 'Brobdingnagian', it's a measure bludgeon of a song. Basically, strap yourself in and be prepared for casualties.
And so to Kasper Rosa. The lads have worked hard to prepare, promote and organise this gig, and are determined to enjoy their moment. The tempo is set early by an assault of strobing lights and heavy riffs battering your ears, before the first of many guests provides some violence, I mean violin, which brings some big blue sky vibrancy to the performance.
This emotional journey is what is most prevalent in their material, which often has a cinematic feel to it, as though they're providing a score to the movie in their heads. This turn to delicacy is not permanent though, as they return to Sunn O))) style aural battering, with a spiralling descent into a stupor. As mentioned before the band have put in a lot of hard work for this show, leading to a lag in pace as they ambitiously try to show everything they can do with acoustic and keyboard tracks, as well as having half of Belfast on the stage for a chaotic closer.
It's a shame that this ambition hasn't quite paid off, but hopefully by the time the album comes along they'll be more than worthy of the spectacle they've put on.