Portland Arms 28/08/04

Now I have to be truthful and say that, had I not been invited to tonight's Cambridgebands.com gig then I would have been guilty of probably not being there. To my shame, because I know I should be supporting something so worthwhile. Although I do have the excuse that I am completely skint, so who am I to turn down a free night out? And, overall, I'm glad I didn't.

Opening band, Poser, did nothing for my post-Friday night head. Although, having already reviewed their CD, "Scars That Never Fade", I didn't expect them to. For those not in the know, their fresh-faced American hardcore pop-punk-type style has slightly too much of a Blink 182 tinge for me, though that's not to say I'm not impressed by their obvious love of, and pride in, what they do. As was the slightly frightening giant of a man going nuts down the front, proving that Poser are not necessarily a band solely for younger and more energetic people than myself. Oh, who am I kidding? Expect lots of bouncy jumping and swinging of little bodies around the stage, whilst instruments are played so fiercely and frantically that you may have to duck to avoid the odd flying drumstick and guitar strings have to be changed after the first song, at least giving you time to adjust your backwards baseball cap. Dude.

Ten Second Window

And, whilst Poser may sport the youngest band member, (their surprisingly talented new bassist is just 14-years-old), then Ten Second Window are proud to present possibly the hairiest drummer of all time. Luckily, this doesn't prevent him supplying dramatic beats to complement some equally as dramatic basslines, kooky effects and soaring Muse-esque vocals; this Cambridge-based trio are, without a doubt, a very serious band, accurately describing themselves as "schitzophrenic, experimental rock 'n' roll", hence the lengthy and complex guitar solo about halfway through their set. Perhaps the voices advised them on this. But, although such self-indulgent antics would usually drive me to drink, especially when involving said instrumentalist meaningfully seating himself in front of his audience for a bit of adoring attention, somehow it just works and I'm left, instead, feeling their compelling performance was all-too-short. And, lo! Not a drop of alcohol in sight.

Speaking of alcohol, so we come to the suspiciously drunk-looking guitarist from Essex four-piece,My Medication, and I ask myself "would they have sounded better if he hadn't been so drunk?" The answer? Probably not. Transporting the crowd right back to 1991: "The Year Punk Broke" (for the second time), whilst obviously never meant to be polished performers, it often seemed that they were concentrating so hard on being sloppy for the sake of it that any melody that could be heard trying to fight through was buried under the rubble of shouted choruses and badly-played instruments. Which is a shame because, for the times when they were good, they sounded a little like Hole during their "Live Through This" era (none-of this overproduced rubbish here), despite the pretty token girl appearing significantly more uncomfortable center-stage in comparison to our Courtney. Just not my cup of tea, I'm afraid.

And finishing off tonight's interesting mixed bag of entertainment, with a blend of old and new material, is Meadowman, a strange-looking hybrid of crusty and skater-punk, with a frontman who could easily disappear in a puff of grungey smoke at any second, alongside the glam glittery guitar which surely every band should have. Refreshing and rare to see a band these days more about substance than styling, if your diet should consist of an accomplished high-fat rhythm section, heavy riffs so gritty you'd need a toothpick before dessert and vocals Layne Staley would have died for (if he wasn't already, er, dead) that you just can't believe can be pulled off live, then you're in luck. Obviously influenced by Tool, Alice In Chains, early Soundgarden and a whole host of other such bands who enjoyed listening to Led Zeppelin as youngsters and let the music speak for itself, apparently someone called Meadowman "blues rock" but I would have to disagree. They are much more metal than that. But don't take my word for it. They have a CD for sale for a mere two pounds. A snip at half the price.


THE FURIOUS SLEEP- The Furious Sleep

The Furious Sleep are very British. An unusual little musical island amidst the near-Americanised rest of the world, completely giving the finger to punk-rock convention through their general favour of acoustic guitars and taking changing time signatures to a ridiculous level, they have emerged with a collection of songs so steeped in originality that, at first, it had me wanting to break something immediately. Namely the CD. Usually not a fan of something too utterly over-complicated for me to understand and, more importantly, so undanceable, I did, however, resist the temptation, thankfully to discover the gems on this debut album.
"Quilty" displays the band at what they do best, fighting between good and evil and wrestling with their consciences by swerving from angelic vocals and melodic bliss to all-out screaming chaos in the well-calculated strum of a chord. Alongside other stand-out tracks, the tangled mess of "Warmer Climes" and the epic favourite "Tofu Escape Clause", whilst this is more like a clever and intricate piece of theatre than a catchy toe-tapping masterpiece, The Furious Sleep are, regardless, to be admired as they take this small step for Cambridge musicians, and a large step for indie-fans everywhere. Take from it what you will, but you will take something.

Anna Claxton