Thanks to Kai of Esprit D’Air for the invitation to this concert which turned out to be as eclectic a mix as anyone could imagine. Almost a mini-festival in The Garage’s lower-level venue!
Opening the show were local loons Ocean Tides who threw out some heavy metalcore riffage to a pretty busy dancefloor. It would be easy to assume that half the audience were their mates, but given that the place was almost full and everyone stayed rooted to the front for the next two acts it’s fair to say that they just put on a good show.
They began a little static, but as they progressed through single “Cut Loose” and into the latter part of their set they all seemed to loosen up, and the singer’s crowd interaction was spot on. Inviting a good mosh, getting everyone to crouch and jump, bounce around and so on… even when the audience didn’t join in, the band weren’t fazed. They ploughed on like pros and thundered out more loud noises. Given a bigger stage I can just see them going that bit more wild.
It sounds like they have a new EP out soon, and they will be playing at the other end (vertically) of The Garage up in the Attic on October 1st. Worth checking them out if you missed them this evening.
Pretty Addicted was pretty “out there”. Playing as a two-piece (front-woman Vicious Precious and a drummer, supported by loads of backing tracks) they’re described as “dance punk” and definitely electronic music. There was a group of hardcore fans down the front who were very much there to see Ms Precious in all her stripey-shirted glory. While the music wasn’t for me, there’s no denying that VP is quite the entertainer. It takes guts to get up on stage and essentially be the entire act. No offence to the drummer, but he was hidden at the back while the focus was very much on the singer. Dancing, bouncing, contorting and acting she reminded me of Maria Brink, especially with the hoarse tone to her vocals and the somewhat off-kilter nature of the songs.
This was very much a performance above and beyond a live set of songs, with Precious’ vocals ranging from very harsh to very hoarse. She wasn’t helped by the sound on the evening, often sounding like the band were playing at the far end of a barn which I feel results in things lacking that punch that they needed. Mind, the sound tech would have had his work cut out due to having to deal with three bands with vastly different sonic requirements.
A set that could have been very “WTF” were it not for the charisma and tireless performance of VP, and the bouncing audience who lapped it up.
This was to be an early night due to The Garage’s club night and therefore early gig curfew, but that worked fine for me as I had to pick my kids up afterwards. Esprit D’Air strode on stage at around 8:30 to huge applause, launching into their set without delay.
Again, the impact of the music was lessened by some poor sound balance. The guitars were basically inaudible for some time, and I’d say it was around the halfway point before the balance was just about managed. This didn’t matter to the fairly full venue, though, who were really enjoying the band’s pretty unique sound.
The majority of Esprit D’Air’s songs are sung in Japanese, and I was surprised to see quite a few people singing along who most definitely weren’t (at least obviously) from that country. I guess it’s the Rammstein Effect, only a bit further east. Their combination of melodic electronic backdrops, traditional metal guitars and drums and Kai’s huge vocal range give them a sound that’s all their own. Kai mentioned that he’d lost his voice earlier and would do his best, but the only concession he made to this was a reduction in chatter to the audience. He hit every note in every song, so if this is him with a dodgy voice I can’t comprehend what he’s like at full strength.
I’m not sure if the band ramped it up a notch for “Leviathan” or if it’s just a beast of a song, but it and the songs following really had the power that was lacking (due to venue sound) for the earlier part of the set. It did allow for a strong end to the show and the band left, for the second time, to deserved applause.
As well as a great musical performance, I have to say that I really liked being in a live venue again – especially with such a wide collection of people. While the majority of the crowd were in the goth / alt brigade, I spotted two young ladies who could have been waiting for the trendy student night, a couple of people even older than me, Robb Flynn’s slightly younger brother… and one of my pupils with his mum! There were people of all colours and ages. The only common thread was that they were all really into the show and obviously enjoying it. Absolutely wonderful and the way things should be.
By the time this is published, Esprit D’Air will have finished their short run of self-promoted shows and it sounds like they’ve been a great success. Well done to the band (and supports), and do keep an eye out for their next road trip.