Friday, 15 January 2016

Elasea - The Vic Swindon, 14/01/16

Being from Swindon, when I saw the announcement that Elasea were playing a headline set, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be there. Having fallen in love with them when I saw them support Funeral For A Friend way back in June, I'd been keeping an eye out for any local shows that they played - the fact that this one had two other local bands on the bill and was free entry was just an extra added bonus.

If I had to choose one word to describe opening band Sea Mammal, it would be introspective. 
If you pushed me to choose a second, it would be boring.
I'm going to say this straight off: musically, the band are very talented. The extended instrumentals that they were performing were executed to near perfection, and I could definitely appreciate the skill level that they were exhibiting. However, the main reason I attend show is to have fun, join in with a singalong or two and leave with songs stuck in my head. That's just not something that can happen with Sea Mammal.
Two of the three songs with lyrics that they performed were very simplistic - painfully so - repeating a handful of words and lines over and over with no variation, giving the very surreal feeling of being stuck on a loop. This, combined with the majority of songs in their set just being glorified jam sessions, meant that I found my attention drifting and my patience slipping rapidly away.
Add in the fact that there was no interaction with the crowd (okay, I lie. Their bassist thanked the crowd, and introduced the band, just before walking off stage after finishing their final song)... What could have been a really special set just didn't work out.
There was a song in the middle that had much more promise, with a furiously fast vocal and a much more uptempo style, but it was over far too quickly. It was the one song in which the band seemed to let go and take themselves less seriously, because the rest of the set was highly self involved.
It takes a certain calibre of band to be able to pull off this style of music in a live environment, and I don't think Sea Mammal are quite there yet. I can understand why their style of music appeals to people, with the grunge undertones and the thrashing guitars, but this set just wasn't to my taste.

However, Misfires were completely up my street. Imagine, for a moment, if you will, that The 1975, Little Comets and Arctic Monkeys all had a baby together. That baby would be Misfires.
In fact, I'd challenge you to find a more indie-sounding band than this one. With their almost pop sensibilities and their upbeat tunes, I found myself enjoying the evening and starting to have a lot more fun throughout their twenty minute set.
The set was far from perfect, with guitar strings breaking and amps being disconnected willy-nilly, but the camaraderie between the band members made that completely acceptable. In fact, I think it made the show better - you could tell how much fun the members were having, and they weren't letting anything ruin their night.
I don't have anything too specific to say about Misfires, because I enjoyed the entirety of their too short set. They're a band from Swindon, so the next time they play a show in the local area I'm definitely going to be attending. I wouldn't be too surprised if they were snapped up by festivals soon, though, because their summery sound would perfectly fit in an outdoor environment.

It's been a while since the last time I saw Elasea, and while I've been listening to their EP and other releases regularly, these songs take on a life of their own in a live environment. As soon as the opening strains of 'Shallow Waters' began, I was sucked into their set, and I enjoyed every moment.
Sine the last time I saw the band they've gone through a line-up change, so this was my first time seeing their new drummer, Ash, perform with them. I'd expected the dynamic to shift, thought there might be a palpable change in their chemistry, but he seems to fit in perfectly with the other members - if this was your first Elasea show, you definitely wouldn't pick up on the recent change. The majority of songs in their set were songs that I already knew, and I could hear anything drastically different in the way that Ash played them. When I saw them previously I commented on how talented their drummer was, but his replacement is more than filling his shoes, and that's even more apparent on the new material.
Elasea played two new songs at the show: 'Walls' and 'On My Own'. I've always lauded Elasea for their lyrics, because I think for a fairly small band they're brilliant at writing lyrics that are easy to relate to but also great for singalongs. With 'Walls', they've finally upped their game musically, with an atmospheric opening that sent chills down my spine. Guitarist Calum Radmore really stood out on the track, playing his guitar perfectly, and while it seemed like a departure from the band's usual sound, it also felt utterly them.
The second of the two new songs, 'On My Own', was definitely a chance to show off their new drummer. I don't often find myself focusing on drummers live - I don't know why, it's just one of the things I'm least likely to comment upon - but I was enthralled by the drum line throughout the first half of the song. 'On My Own' builds to a very beautiful climax, with vocalist Andy Bradford verging on screaming the lyric "when it rains it pours, can't remember what I'm looking for", and I loved the difference in style. While their EP is very much one to sing along to, veering more towards their pop punk sensibilities, the sheer unbridled angst bubbling over made for a fabulous energy and I couldn't tear my eyes away.
I don't love the new songs yet, but my interest was held by them. They feel like album tracks when you compare them to songs like 'Lost In The Dark' and 'Time Is Against Us', which definitely would be the singles: those two just have that something special, making them instantly stand out. All bands need to have the bread and butter songs, a bit plainer compared to the extravagant desserts. I'm not saying that in a bad way - average is necessary, because not every song released can be a number one hit! - but when their first half a dozen releases were as strong and absorbing as they were, there had to come a time when they plateaued and found a level on which to build.
Overall, I think this was the most impressed I've been with an Elasea show. The band seem to have a fire in their veins and a determination that wasn't there before, and they're definitely not going to let anything stand in their way. I'm already looking forward to hearing more material, and hopefully seeing them again soon. I still think there's something very special about these four.

Shallow Waters
Glory For The Sinner
Glass Heart
On My Own
Lost In The Dark
Time Is Against Us

1 comment:

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