Considering it’s a Tuesday night, the Old Blue Last is rammed. And it’s rammed not with your usual trendy crowd of indie fans, but with those who enjoy their sounds a little bit heavier.
Several of their tracks have the flavour of Foo Fighters’ Rope, but with Dave Grohl’s roar replaced by, lead singer, Ross Smithwick’s rather whiney tones.
They’re a passionate enough bunch though. Smithwick plays his guitar with the headbanging energy of Biffy Clyro, and their occassional decent heavy riff gets several people nodding along.
There is a sense, however, that this isn’t quite what everyone’s waiting for. But what comes next is a step closer.
Suffer Like G Did walk onstage ready to make this night interesting.
Mics are shoved to the sides of the stage to be used only to introduce each song in this wordless set of symphonies.
These songs have been meticulously composed, filled with unique rhythms and rarely-heard chords that simply leave no room for lyrics.
The snappy, heavy guitar strums dart in at seemingly random intervals, grounded by flowing solos, subtle basslines and hi hat-dominated drum taps.
The band face inwards as if keeping an eye on what everyone else is doing to make sure every carefully placed note slots in at the right point.
The unusually minor tonality of this music is reminiscent of Watch Out-era Alexisonfire, but it makes for the most original sound to emerge from the alternative rock scene in a very long time.
By the end of the set, the room is hot, and anticipation is in the air.
Tangled Hair arrive onstage to prove that this isn’t just a one-band phenomenon: this is the new alt sound.
The instrumentation in these songs is similarly immaculately composed, but this time there are vocals. Lead singer, Alan Welsh’s slightly off-key voice shifts from shouting almost to a whisper from word to word, bringing an extra layer of experimentation. And when it’s quiet, you can tell how loved this band are, as the audience whisper every word along with him.
You might put them in the same musical category as Suffer Like G Did, but Tangled Hair are taking it less seriously. Their between-song banter reveals a great sense of humour as drummer, James Trood, jokes that he can’t actually play the glockenspiel which features in the next song, and Alan ends up performing a spoken word version of Dr Dre’s Still DRE.
They might joke about their musical ineptitude, but it’s clear there is a lot of skill on display. The guitar parts are fast and elegant, the rhythms are impressively complex, and the words are something this audience, at least, have actually bothered to learn. Yet an air of casual spontaneity is achieved. And there’s not a lot you can improve on in that.