This show was part of Figure 4 Leg Rock podcast’s 1st year anniversary celebration gig – if you don’t know about this, check it out at the link below . This is a podcast relating to underground alternative music and wrestling. To be honest, I knew nothing of this, I only actually knew of one band playing tonight that I caught recently at Hammerfest, but the others on the bill were a real bonus.
First up were GRINDHOUSE from High Wycombe. These young fellas are an angry crew! The vocalist wanders into the crowd floor area, moves around lots and has a powerful set of pipes, much like some sludge bands I could mention. Musically, the guitar work is precise and sounding pretty much groovy stoner meets sludge meets punk and I love the energy of the singer Frank, although I missed some song titles when they are spoken due to enthusiasm I guess! I like it when the guitarist falls to the floor (on purpose) and plays on his back; this rocks this small town very nicely in their own ‘Dreamathon’ and this was a great start to the evening.
Next up were ALMEIDA from the South Coast and they play progressive thrash. Now the first thing that strikes me is the tiny keyboard, this is the singer Tom’s musical contribution at various times throughout their set. I am astounded in a good way to the level of musicianship here, the bass is consistently thundering and jazzing itself in the background whilst the guitarists are providing some real virtuosity, especially during ‘Terry Nutkin’s Chocolate Orange’ (spoof title I guess?). New track ‘Creed’ is dedicated to Alter Bridge (spot the irony) and shows, especially vocally with some real emotion coming from the band as well as the vocals. The guitars produce a slight undercurrent of street punk and even some latter set tunes very much remind me of the speed and veracity of early first album Dragonforce. At the end of this set I was left feeling like my first time with those aforementioned power metallers, gleefully enthusiastic and thoroughly satisfied with the clear top drawer level of musicianship. Adding humour and tribute to Wrestlemania, the keyboards are used to good effect.
Next up were DARKO, who were very much a punk band and not something I really enjoy, so sorry fellas, I don’t feel like I should comment! All I can say is that there were a few watchers and I am pleased to say it was also the other bands playing on the bill, there was certainly a sense of support throughout the evening between all acts.
DRIVEN was actually my main reason for attendance this evening, their show at Hammerfest was really enjoyable, it is one of those moments when you take a punt at a band you don’t know at a festival and then you are hooked, Driven did this to me. So tonight, they have a lot of friends in the audience and all in all have one of the biggest crowds. A haunting intro begins a new track ‘In Search of Sun’ (I think I got that written down right – sorry if not!) which is about pursuing your dreams. The crowd responds to vocalist Adam by hand clapping in time and for a moment some of the bass runs reminds me of the melody to G’N’R’s ‘My Michelle’ just before the singing begins for this semi ballad. I say singing because Adam can really flip between an aggressive Phil Anselmo type to a soulful deep toned Chris Cornell type although not exactly a sound-a-like compared to the latter Seattle crooner (I mean the delivery), this is one of the attractions for me at the aforementioned earlier live experience, the delivery is faultless and versatile. You clearly hear this on their single and current video track ‘Uproar’. The sing along and complete varied track ‘The Fool’ is welcomed addition, it’s a bit Pantera (‘trendkill’ era) and a bit stoner groovy at the same time, the groove is really infectious! Of course, no Driven set would be complete with the “conga”…yes I kid you not. Whilst I did not participate at an earlier show, I could not resist tonight and it also proved how un-fit I was, thanks guys! Seriously, you need to check this band out as they have so much energy, their music speaks volumes for such traits as virtuosity and the art of creating interesting and varied arrangements, that is, they keep a crowd entertained and show that they enjoy what they do on stage.
After the exhaustion of Driven another punk band appeared in the form of Müg. I watched them for a while as it was a pretty poor attendance, but like I said earlier for Darko, not my thing gents but they were very tight at what they did.
Finally…the hour was late, the beer was flowing and the denim jackets were out in force…MEANSTEED were in stage and on the case. These North London hellraisers (From Harrow) play hard and heavy rock and roll, if you take AC/DC, Airbourne, Girlschool and Bullet and mix it all up, you have an idea of the carnage, a cool carnage they produce. There are plenty of cliché stage moves, standing on a box at stage front, getting a piggy back whilst playing guitar but I cannot deny this is bloody great energy. ‘Weekend Warrior’ and other fist raising tracks like ‘Engage the Rage’ and ‘Make a Stand’ has the crowd headbanging and thirsty for more. These gents will be supporting High Spirits at the Black Heart very soon, so you must check these out too!
All in all, a really cool night was had by all and I must commend the venue on the doorstep of the train station with drinks less than £2.50. The PA/sound system in The Flag is rather damn good with cool acoustics and lighting. Whilst speaking to the venue staff I was told that regular nights like these are common and promised at the venue. Its only 15-18 minutes from Euston and still in a travelcard zone (just). Whilst my marketing duties are now complete…I will end with my thought of the evening…It is nice to see a good local scene just outside of the normal pulling power of London.
Figure 4 Leg Rock Podcast: https://www.facebook.com/Figure4LegRockPodcast
The Flag, Watford: http://www.theflagwatford.co.uk