With music on tap these days, it’s not enough to just bash out a few tunes and hope for the best. The public, for better or worse, demand more for their dough. Gone are the days (for the most part anyway) where watching a few scallies in shirts buttoned all the way up thrash out distorted G chords passed for entertainment. With the technology available to us at a domestic level, the opportunity to make more of your art is there for the taking. Of course, with the advent of applications like Instagram and easy-to-use video software, any two-pump chump can make with the Hollywood style. The difference is being able to do it right. With each band came a screen presenting continuous visuals; denoting common themes and symbolic meaning throughout the night.
You Do The Math, Liverpool-based promoters and creative hub, along with their co-promoters NewPath, possess enough foresight and talent to provide both excellent music and enough artistic accompaniment to make a £7 entrance fee seem like a ridiculously low price. Mello Mello, more popular than ever, strained under the sheer numbers of those in attendance. As per, it exhibited a mix of self-conscious hipsters, hippies with more crust than a Greggs’ pie and boorish girls who think their looks entitle them to push in front of people and shout loudly at nothing in particular.
Kusanagi were the night’s first sacrifice and their sound veered from full, rounded and heavy to jaunty, clattering Beefheart-esque rhythms. Behind them, the screen showed the rudimentary practices of the mass-production line. The extended footage of McDonald’s workers creating their meaty artefacts was either temptation to vociferous carnivores such as this reporter or provocation towards the sympathetic inhabitants of Liverpool’s most prominent vegan eatery. For Kusanagi, a drummer of real quality was enough to mask the deficiencies in their sound. Their heavier passages were superb, but the bridges between left a lot to be desired. At times they meandered a little too much and almost lost the crowd.
Liverpool’s Muto Leo announced tonight’s set was to be their last for a while. Standard protocol would call for a bit of a piss-take; maybe a lame cover, self-indulgence and in-jokes. Luckily, Muto Leo have got a bit more about them than that and introduced a song they had crafted that very night. An appreciative audience basked in the glow of a projector screen that had shifted towards a more organic theme. The dystopian decadence of industry faded and the beauty of the natural world took over; geese, hermit crabs and other wildlife rolled, clacked and flew as Muto Leo’s swift and smooth music drew in those in attendance. Their bassist, a sure-fire talent if there ever was one, eased the group away from the sameness that their sound is liable to promote. Both guitarists appeared to be wary of moving away from the same three frets but it’s a small complaint. Moreover, it’s a shame to see them go on hiatus. Catch ‘em when they come back.
Gallops came with a seal of approval so big you could spot it on a BBC nature documentary. As they cantered onto the stage the tension was palpable. Maybe it was the hype, maybe it was the attention fatigue brought about by NewPath’s admirable but very speedy changeover routine (which could put any F1 pit crew to shame), but Gallops looked as if they might fall at the first fence. Behind them, the screen blared out futuristic imagery with a clinical edge; a perfect summation of their music. Heavy guitars jostled for position with discordant electronics but it seemed a little too much given the more natural sounds posited by the two preceding acts.
The vaguely promising images of an unknown future melted away and the stark visions of our own strange reality took over; civil unrest, pitched battles between people of all classes and professions, the menace of the modern age available and shameless for all to see. As luck would have it, local heroes MinionTV are on hand to translate such images into sound. Their looping bass lines and unperturbed drumming come with more than a hint of malice, aided and abetted by washes of guitar and discordant feedback. MinionTV’s Stephen Johnston moonlights as one of NewPath’s high-ranking officers (and is also the local Boardwalk Empire expert); his work both behind the desk and on-stage should be commended.
Maybeshewill’s appearance tonight is something of a coup for You Do The Math and Mello Mello. Fresh off a European tour, the Midlands five-piece are aiming higher and higher with each passing week. They say an empty can rattles the most, but Maybeshewill smash such passé sentiments to pieces with a set of frightening volume and energy. The Orwellian visage that ranted from the screen behind them was a fitting bedfellow for music that felt like the boot that stamps on the face of humanity forevermore. With Castlevania keyboards punctuating an acidic wash of guitar and bass, it’s no wonder expectations are high.
From the outside, post-rock might seem like a one-dimensional genre. Ultimately, you can’t blame people for carrying the perception that it’s a style that suits pretentious cunts; all those lofty concepts conveyed with no words. It’s a pain being alive, isn’t it? What You Do The Math, NewPath and all concerned have done is show that the genre has more variety than a multi-pack of mini-cereals. From Beefheart to Attenborough to Orwell, it truly is what you see and make of it.