The PedanticsUnder the Counter

Zanzibar, Seel Street
5th April 2008

Reviewed by Alicia Rose

Serving up some of the hottest unsigned music in Liverpool, ‘Under the Counter’ at the Zanzibar, Saturday night was an orotund success from start to finish. In conjunction with raising awareness for the unsigned music scene in this Capital of Culture year, organisers Sarah Edwards (The Fountains) and John Robinson (The Pedantics - photo above) had the aim of heightening the profile of Liverpool’s music scene which they feel has lost some of its shine over the past four years. The unmistakable oversight of any financial benefits/interest from the 08 Culture Brigade remains apparent, so these hardy musicians are, again, standing up for themselves and singing back. Decked out with black & white bunting the Zanzibar emitted an ambience of youthful celebration and euphonious spree.

First up were ‘The Howls’ who immediately marked the territory with raw dynamism and a sense of urgent panic. Fractured sound distortions aligned with explosive drumming whipped the already heaving crowd into a happy frenzy. Their set was short (six songs), but completely wet the proverbial whistle for wanting more. Nicely kitted out in pinstripe shirts, casual slacks and ties the ‘ASbos’ came up second slot. Bringing a haughty air of snot and grace to the stage, they percolated to a ‘fender happy’ temperature, telling us all about the Miracle of Life, an Animal and a Weird Dream. ASbos’ songs are a carousel of calamity, repetition and staccato stretched splendid-ness. The more I listened the more pleasant became their superciliousness. As always, the sound quality was blemish free with apprehending soundman Andy ever attentive to every artist’s requirements. As the event unfolded, the packed venue swelled appreciatively as ‘The Fountains’ ripped into their stage space. Stuck In The Mud pushes the senses like a déjà vu and Sally Eddo’s voice sprinkles songbird levels of tone and dolce that effortlessly comforts whilst frenetic lead guitar circles whip the audience into a happy groove. Guesting with The Fountains and seeping into the room via Saxophone and Clarinet was Simon (from ‘Wizards of Twiddly’) and on percussion for Get Yourself Together and playing avidly through the fast and lively guiro, congas, and tambourine was Andy Royden (‘The Regimental’). The Fountains pooled sounds from Hip Ska to Eclectic West grooves and when it came to letting the crowd know they were on their final song, sounds emitted were reminiscent of kids having had their sweets taken away.

However, more in-store ‘under counter’ goodies came rough cut in the form and shape of ‘The Pedantics’ (pictured). This band of four sex-skinny blokes managed to punktuate aggression suggestively with empowered panic and instrumental skulduggery. Their drummer alone a force of wicked emblazonment, the shore shot slinging of lyrical light from lead singer John Robinson all together tempered transgression through space and sound. The pedantic listening experience is an uplifting delight of entertainment in its rawest natural form; hallelujah, a live band of white-hot wonder. A hard act to follow but the service admirably continued with ‘The Spectres’ and their Barbarella Rock, instrumental overlay and Blondie ventured vocalism. Lead singer Cheryl Doyle juxtaposed diffidently with sound and action, rounding the night off at the same abnormal height it entered.

All bands that performed can be found on myspace so check them out and go see/hear them live. The unsigned age resurrected: job done.

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