Thursday, 10 November 2016

Tigercub - The Bullingdon, Oxford, 06/11/16

Image result for tiger cub band

The last time I saw Elasea was at their headline show in Swindon all the way back in January, and they were the reason I decided to go to this gig. In the last ten months they've been hard at work, finalizing their new line-up (including the addition of Braydie Haskell on keyboard) and working on new material, and this is a much more confident version of the band than the one I saw at the beginning of the year.
The change in vocalist Andy Bradford is astounding. Whereas before he left the majority of the movement to Liv Jones and Calum Radmore, who would spin and jump across the stage in whirlwind of energy, now he's filled with a new lust for life, throwing himself into every song and owning his role as the frontman. It's impossible to choose who to look at when they're all so enthusiastic throughout every second of their stage time.
I've loved watching Elasea grow and develop over the last year and a half since discovering them when they opened for Funeral For a Friend just down the road, and I think 2017 is going to be their biggest year yet. Song like 'Walls' and 'Breathe' show a new direction for the band, with Liv taking more of a role as co-vocalist which really complements Andy's voice. I wasn't expecting them to cover 'The Hills', but the way they reworked the song and put their own twist on it has me highly anticipating what they'll do next.
Speaking to Liv after their set, she gave me the inside info that their next EP should be coming out fairly early in 2017. If you haven't already listened to their first EP, 'Where I Belong', just yet, you should definitely do that - they played two songs off of the EP, 'Glass Heart' and 'Time Is Against Us', and even though I'm really enjoying the sound of the new material I think the earlier songs still win in a live environment. 

On My Own
The Hills (The Weeknd cover)
Time Stops
Glass Heart
Time Is Against Us

A late addition to the bill, main support Cassels had the advantage over the other two bands as this was practically a hometown show (the duo hailing from Chipping Norton, less than an hour down the road). Having received radio play and been featured in DIY Magazine in the last month or so, there's a buzz beginning to surround these two, and I wasn't surprised at all to see a large crowd of people at the barrier wearing their merch and singing along to almost every word of their set.
The best way to describe their sound is eclectic. 'Sights For Sore Eyes' starts off with a roaring intro that morphs into a dancier vibe, playing around with abrupt stops and crashing restarts reminiscent of a rollercoaster ride. 'Well Fed Worms In A Graveyard' times in at just over 30 seconds, so when vocalist Jim Beck introduces it as a "quick one" he's not exaggerating.
Contrasting both of those frenetic, pull-no-punches tracks with the quieter 'Ignoring All The Tunnels and Lights' was proof that these two aren't afraid to play around with different styles, ignoring the boundaries between genres and doing what they damn well feel like. Introducing the track, Jim stated that because it was quieter it was their "most romantic one", following up with the information that "it's not at all: it's about getting old and refusing to die" to which Loz Beck, drummer quipped, "pretty sexy!". When Jim said he would go up to girls using the chat-up line "Do you wanna die alone? Hi, my name's Jim," Loz laughed, saying "Works every time...".
If you didn't work it out thanks to the surnames, the band members are actually brothers. It makes the relationship between the two absolutely magnetic: they know each other so well that they're weirdly in sync. There was a moment when Jim was in the middle of tuning his guitar, his reverb going in the background to fill the silence, and he turned it off at the exact same moment Loz crashed against his drums. It sounded brilliant, and Jim shouted that it was "nearly the best thing [they'd] ever done". It takes a lot of time and practice for band members to be able to bounce off each other like that, and Cassels definitely have an advantage by being related.
My only complaint was that Jim needed to retune his guitar between after almost every song. I was getting lost in every song, completely absorbed and focused intently on their music, but as soon as the tuning started it broke the spell. It's not his fault - it's something that happens to all musicians - but it was a little frustrating. Other than that, the set was completely flawless, which is something I haven't seen from a smaller band like this for a long time.
If you close your eyes while listening to Cassels you would have no idea that there were only two men on stage. It's non-stop, unrestrained rock that verges on pop and grunge in equal measures. Loz is currently at university in Hatfield, so I'm thinking the focus is going to be completely on the band as soon as he graduates. These guys could be extremely big in a couple of years time.
If you like your music to be intellectually simulating - the kind that always keeps you guessing about where exactly it's going to go next - Cassels are going to be your new favourite band.
Sights For Sore Eyes
Flock Analogy
Well Fed Worms In A Graveyard
Ignoring All The Tunnels and Lights
Beach Baby
Hating Is Easy
Cool Box

I hadn't heard of Tigercub before this show, so I had no idea what to expect. When the lights went off before the band took to the stage, 'Drop It Like It's Hot' by Snoop Dogg piping through the sound system, I was instantly entertained: a band that have good intro music always grab my attention and get me pumped for their set to begin.
However, that was the most exciting moment of their set. The lights stayed low, a brief flashing of the strobe light above the stage being the only thing that illuminated the three band members at any point during their set. It was almost impossible to see them through the gloomy, smoke-filled room, and as they moved from song to song hardly interacting with the crowd it began to feel like it was going to be a never-ending night.
If vocalist Jamie Hall had made more of an effort to involve the crowd, it would have been a completely different story. The turnout was remarkably good for a cold, wet Sunday, and if Jamie had asked them to step forward or fill the barrier it would have increased the atmosphere monumentally. Instead he gave up after one sentence, shouting "don't respond!" with frustration. When mentioning their upcoming album, 'Abstract Fears In The Dark', he also seemed quite abrasive, stating "you don't have to buy it, but if you don't want to buy it you don't have to. Fuckers, I'll talk all night. Number one tip for being in a band? Tell your audience to go fuck themselves. That's how it's supposed to be".
Uncomfortable, to say the least. There's having a rock'n'roll attitude, and then there's just being insolent. It did get a couple of chuckles from the people in attendance, but after the fun that Elasea and Cassels brought to the stage earlier in the evening, it was more of a rude awakening for me. 
Most of their songs sound exactly the same, but I did enjoy 'Burning Effigies', which was more stripped back and had far more complex lyrics than other songs they played (such as 'Bittersweet Motherfucker', which does exactly what it says on the tin) and 'You', with its melancholy "there's a hole in my head and it makes me forget about you" refrain.
If you like Nirvana but wish they were a little less energetic, I'd definitely recommend Tigercub. I'm afraid they just weren't my cup of tea.

Drop It Like It's Hot intro
Rich Boy
Bittersweet Motherfucker
Burning Effigies
Pictures of You

Unfortunately I had to leave before the end of the show, so I'm not completely certain on what other songs they played - I do know that 'Destroy' made an appearance though!

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