Jogging, Shapes, Before Machines
Really Belfast, you should be doing better than this. We're apparently the hot new thing in music, our acts bounding across the world, and yet we're ignoring our own doorstep. Ok, 2 of the 3 bands tonight aren't local, but they're good acts and the lack of crowd shows we're treating our guests badly.
The local opener this evening is Before Machines, who may be suffering from falling between several stools. Their sound throws bits of pop, rock, post rock, math rock, art rock all into the blender, and whilst it suggests they're still searching for their exact sound, their ability can't be questioned. Their on-stage dynamic this evening is slightly restrained, for the understandable reason of guitarist/keyboardist Chris having a broken collarbone - we'll forgive him for not stage-diving. 'South Africa' was intended as an alternative World Cup theme, and like a good football team, it's all angles and creativity, a rockier, early Foals. Once back to full strength, with an added bit of tactical discipline, they'll be definite contenders.
Shapes, from Birmingham, are here on the last night of their Irish tour. Immediately it's heavier, faster, angrier than Before Machines, recalling the likes of Tubelord, Pulled Apart By Horses, and Black Flag, a battering onslaught of discordant noise. Even the relatively more melodic parts are a challenge, all jutting angles and machine gun rhythms from our previously normal looking drummer, now morphed into a violent monster. After boasting how well the set is going, they are given an impromptu lesion in what happens when you taunt the gids, with technical problems threatening to de-rail the set.
These difficulties are quickly overcome, and the assault resumes, and as our ears attune, it makes sense, the subtleties become clearer, and it becomes clear why they're playing tonight - they dovetail very nicely with the headline act. A more brutal version perhaps, but there is a kindred spirit.
Label-mates of ASIWYFA, Adebisi Shank, and Not Squares among others, Jogging fit well into the vibe of their Richter Collective brethren - a little bit arty, a little bit noisy, a little bit challenging. They're not as confrontational as Shapes, but have a lurking menace to them. The set draws heavily from their recent album Minutes, and 'Fostered Foes', with a long instrumental intro is well capable of melting and breaking heads, while a new track summons up Blood Red Shoes and The Pixies. The highlight though is 'Shape Up Shakedown', shouty sound-bite sloganeering over a catchy riff.
And that's what makes the poor turnout so frustrating - we eat up bands like Jogging here in Belfast (and beyond). They can hold their own with the North Coast Hardcore scene (led by the likes of Lantern For A Gale and Axis Of), but also the more progressive math/post/art-rock of ASIWYFA, and even the dumb riffage of LaFaro. Belfast - pay attention next time! Jogging is good for you, so get your sweatbands on.