Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Bristol Community Festival, 2000

Despite having spent the last few years in the not inconsiderable shadow of Portishead, Massive Attack et al, it’s time for the local post-rock and hardcore scene to put Bristol firmly on the map. Having appeared at last year’s In The City extravaganza, Assembly Communications quickly set the standard for much of the weekend. Their emotive barrage sounds like the Red House Painters played by Slint fans, and brings forth a tidal wave of tumultuous effects and brutal guitars which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Ride’s first album. If that isn’t already a contradictory enough proposition, they also somehow manage to simultaneously batter the crowd back into the ground while Nick Talbot’s mesmerising voice - equal parts Nick Drake, Art Garfunkel and chain-smoking choir-boy - succeeds in lifting the avid onlookers ever higher, and ‘Fires In Distant Buildings’ shows that hardcore needn’t rely on bludgeoning the senses into submission.

Then Crashland turn up to prove that not everyone in Bristol listens to good music, as the punk-pop Shed Seven run through their motions like the tired old has-beens they’re rapidly becoming, and not even their ‘New Perfume’ is enough to entice the more than a passing disinterest, before Toploader show that it doesn’t matter how much money your record label is spending on promotion, it can’t make up for a blatant lack of talent and charisma. It’s always a worrying sign when your band is better known for the singer’s haircut than their records, and that’s the Achilles heel that they should really be worrying about right now.

The lock-groove rhythms of Kiska make the most of the outdoor environment, swelling to fill the open spaces until the hills are echoing with their Tortoise-shaped percussive rumbling. Their Korg and guitar duel provides the perfect backing for multi-instrumentalist Aaron Dewey to get his cornet out on ‘Broken & Unfixed’, before managing to switch instruments mid-song during their finale, first joining Rob Nesbett on keyboards then finally returning to his drum-kit.

With each passing day, Mogwai’s claim to the post-rock throne becomes ever more precarious, and local heavyweights the Signal are the latest name to join the list calling for abdication, as the discordant syncopation of ‘Sentinel 2’ shows an urgency and drive that Stuart Braithwaite would die(t) for, while the thundering motorik of ‘Dance Of The Fool’ recalls such hardcore luminaries as Fugazi and Shellac.

Having to follow such self-assured unsigned bands would give most people more than a mere headache, but Seafood seem incapable of taking a weekend off right now, so there they are once more with their sordid orgy of Sonic Youth art-rock, Sebadoh riffs and Pixies dynamics. Recent months have found Kevin Hendrick stumbling in the right direction down the path from geeky indie-kid to surrogate Thurston Moore, as he hurls his bass around and gashes his hands open in his exuberance while David Line perches himself on the very edge of the stage, roaring though 'Porchlight' and 'Folk Song Crisis', the intensity and volume builds to cacophonous levels behind him, before staggering off on their never-ending journey around Britain.