It was with a huge amount of anticipation that I made my way to the 360 Club that night. Mainly this was because I was really looking forward to seeing Dead Extras because I’ve loved the singles I’ve reviewed from the band, but also because it was the first time I’ve seen Uncomely playing.
Opening their set with ‘found voice’ and some rather tasteful guitar noodling Uncomely are first up. It’s the first time I’ve seen the band despite having reviewed and loved some releases. So varied are those releases I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I got was incredibly impressive.
Basically the band are an object lesson in the appliance of controlled power. It’s loud, it’s as powerful as hell but they play with nuance. Mindless thrash it isn’t. Their songs are crafted, there’s light and shade. They build. And there are relatively restrained slower songs that impressed me with melody and layers of guitar.
The found voice and guitar noodling return in the intro to a song that shifts and changes – one moment it’s heavy alt-rock, the next it’s off-kilter funky post-punky sounding, and gradually this builds into a wall of lovely sound and noise.
Uncomely live are as difficult to pigeon-hole live as they are on record. This is a great and fantastic thing. Look if you were to back me into a corner and wave a bunch of live rats in my face I’d say the band major on heavy alt-rock but this is doing them a dis-service. Because that ignores the subtleties of what they do.
That’s one big ‘loved the band live’ from me. And I was very definitely not alone in thinking that.
Next up were Coconut Mall, a band that were completely new to me. Actually they were completely new to all of us, it being the band’s first gig (I checked their Facebook Page and that mentions an open mic appearance, perhaps they don’t strictly count that).
Their first song struck me as being ‘on the heavy side progressive rock with an alt-rock edge’. It kinda had something of a Muse thing going on, just a hint. The second was rather heavier alt-rock. Indeed this seems to be a band who just do what they want and like. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
My notes say ‘What they do is interesting’. This sounds like I’m damning them with faint praise but that isn’t how I meant it. I was just somewhat confused by some of the songs in their set – they jump around genres. It made it difficult for me to get my reviewer’s head around them, so to speak.
As these thoughts raced through my head the band reached the last song of their set, and fuck it soared. It was so damn glorious.
Look musically this band know their chops, the vocals were cool, and the variety in what they do is fantastic. I think I just need to see them play again. I just know I’m going to end really liking them. I just need to get my head around them, and what they do. Go see Coconut Mall, go with an open mind.
It’s the second time I’ve seen Havanas play. The first time I was rather taken with them. This time I’m sorry to say they just didn’t quite do it for me. I’m going to try and be objective here because of that.
Havanas play loud heavy dirty rock (that’s not heavy rock but rock that is heavy and loud if you get what I mean). There are touches of indie and that Manchester swagger in there. Their songs have tunes. There are oodles of guitar. If this sounds like something that I would probably like, it is. Maybe it was just how I was feeling that night.
All of this is true until there is one song that gets me. It is a big building thing with chiming almost psychedelic guitars. And it’s lovely.
Rule two of reviewing – never give up on a band, you just never know when something may suddenly catch your attention. Rule one. By the way, is arrive on time and see all the bands playing, not just the headliners.
Wow, oh fucking wow. Dead Extras put on a show people, a full on big show. This isn’t going to come as a surprise for those of you that have seen them play before but this is the first time I’ve seen them.
Live I get the punk thing, there’s a punk energy in what they do. They play the very shit out of their instruments. Yep I still get that metal thing seeing them live, but that energy, that’s punk. The make up the band wore that night comes from the video for the single ‘Losing Streak’.
They open with the new single – ‘Losing Streak’ – and if anything it’s more frantic than the release. It’s rawer. It’s just as well played, and boy can they play, but there’s an edge.
Matt stalks the stage, doing those rock frontman things. He is a compelling visual presence, as well as a great vocalist. Liam never stops moving while he rips out guitar and provides the other vocal. The contrast between him and Matt vocally is something special. James does his bass thing. And Joe provides the drum foundation to their sound.
I did try, honest I did, to take a reviewer step back, and I managed that, not for long to be honest, it was way too exciting for that. But in that time I managed it, I got that there was nothing ‘average rock band’ about what Dead Extras do. It’s not just the playing but the songs are so well put together. Their songs are not just one thrash out but they have structure and change. And musically there is nuance and real skill in their playing.
Look you can take all that as read, and just enjoy the show. It’s the show that is the thing. The energy coming off the stage is something I’ve only felt a few times in my gig-going life. Dead Extras played like they were playing a huge venue.
At the end Liam asked me what I thought, and all I could manage was ‘wow’. A rather weak summing up of the experience but I was feeling rather drained physically and emotionally.
Look people Dead Extras are a band you should see, must see.
All photos on this page © Frank Roper Photography – see many more from the gig on his Facebook Page