Toxic Event/Misery Guts/Scuba Steve and the Life Aquatics
Carling Academy, Hotham Street
12th November 2008
Three bands of newcomers took to the stage at the Liverpool Carling Academy.
All showed flashes of talent that could lead to success, but none of them
could quite bring it all together on Wednesday night to ignite the crowd.
First up were Scuba Steve and the Life Aquatics, the kind of people who
would sort of name themselves after a decentish 2004 Bill Murray film.
That doesn't give much of a clue as to their music though, which sounds
like things that were created long, long before these irritatingly young
people were born. Influences diverse as The Velvet Underground and Ray
Charles vie for attention here, though unfortunately it's quite easy to
discern which parts are Velvet Underground-esque and which are Ray Charles
bits. However, these lads only started making music together this year,
and they certainly know their way around their instruments.
Secondly, we had the kind of people who would name themselves Misery
Guts. Although this suggested suicidal black metal to me, they actually
delivered some well-crafted folky acoustic numbers. Again, this was one
of their first gigs, but it hardly showed, as the wistful intricacies
of songs like Are You Ready? and Trying To Be The Sun demonstrated their
high levels of technical skill. Despite not having a drummer, they seemed
to fit perfectly together, and even when vocalist David Hirst admitted
that they'd played one song too fast, they hadn't seemed lost at any stage.
Their music didn't get many people going, and perhaps they would be more
suited to acoustic nights, but they already have a number one fan. I know
this because just as I was thinking 'that guy's their number one fan',
he yelled, "I'm your number one fan" at them. They may well
pick up more devotees soon.
Following these two local bands, Los Angeles-based The Airborne Toxic
Event (above) wrapped things up with an hour-long set. They are the kind
of people who would name themselves after a chemical spill that makes
people consider their mortality in postmodern author Don DeLillo's White
Noise. This is entirely appropriate. Their music is often disjointed,
and there are crunching gear changes that don't really fit. Sometimes
they sound like an emo Franz Ferdinand, if you can imagine such a thing.
But everything comes together when Anna Bulbrook steps forward with her
violin, and Mikkel Jollet's impassioned vocals soar over the mixture.
Jollet's lyrics were inspired by one calamitous week in 2006, and he clearly
means every single word.
The Airborne Toxic Event are getting lots of publicity from the NME as
they play a gig per night in November on their knackering UK tour, promoting
their self-titled debut album. Where any of the bands will go from here
remains to be seen.