As I walked through the misty rain towards the Waterfront, I have to admit that I was a little dubious of the timing of the night ahead. The Reasons Why were booked for a 7.15pm stage time (something about a 90s night afterwards, I’m not sure), so I was naturally a little worried that they’d be playing to no one but me and the bar staff. I should have known better.
When the lights dimmed for the first time of the evening, the audience was already starting to fill the studio room, and when the music started, a multitude eyes turned to the stage. The Reasons Why put in a blistering performance that was worthy of the reputation that they’ve managed to build up for themselves during the short time that they’ve been around. The seamless flow of the bass and relentless focus of the drums were characteristic of what I’ve come to expect from a The Reasons Why show, and all three put in a great effort to make it a gig to remember. Unfortunately, it was the band’s last show for 18 months due to the callings of an American year abroad, and so by the time they finished their set with the beautifully charged, Birds, I had already started counting down the days to their triumphant return.
Next to the stage were Of Diamonds, an electro pop girl group whose facebook page claims that they, “formed from carbon atoms that came from stars”. Quite an introduction. Of Diamonds clearly knew what they were doing and how they wanted to sound. It was good to see a band that was so confident in the music that they were making, and all worked well together to create the psychedelic girl pop that confronted the audience. However, I couldn’t help but wonder why they were on the bill for the evening? Although good, their music seemed juxtaposed with the overall feel of the night and not quite in keeping with the distortion-based riffings of the other bands. I’d be interested to see them again, but on an electro based night. Rock and roll, this was not.
I’ve long been a fan of noisy, low-fi garage pop, and so Faster Than Robots were a real surprise for me. Showing a distinct influence from bands such as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr, this trio were a breath of fresh air. High tempo, fuzz drenched guitar riffs were provided thick and fast, and a few of the basslines really caught my attention. Although the band seemed to get off to a slow start, they soon seemed to find their stage legs, so that by the end of the set they had managed to leave the audience wanting more.
The Broken Seas started their set in the effortlessly cool way that one would expect from one of the top rock bands of the city. As the lights dimmed, a tall figure stalked across the stage and, strapping on a guitar, started playing a distortion laden riff. The atmosphere continued to build as the other members joined the stage, and so began a headline show that none of us would forget in a hurry. The next 45 minutes were filled with the loudest, most intense and downright rock and roll music that I’ve heard in a long time. Think Black Rebel Motorcycle Club meets the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with the occasional nod to Jefferson Airplane, and you’re halfway there. Alex Hill’s vocals soared from soft croonings to great crescendos, Matt’s guitar work was simple but beautifully effective at working the audience into a storm, all backed up by the relentless drive of Fliss Kitson’s drum kit. As if that wasn’t enough, they even threw in a Black Keys cover as a bit of a treat.
The word cool is used to describe pretty much everything these days, but if we think of it as it used to be, the rock and roll sense of cool, of Ray-Bans, leather jackets and whisky, well then we’re getting close to what The Broken Seas offered us with their first headline set at the Waterfront Studio. If you see their name on a poster soon, cancel any plans you may have and make sure that you’re there. Trust me, you won’t regret it.