Play Patterns Weekender - The Well, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Play Patterns Weekender - The Well, Leeds

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Local festivals are many splendored things, and nowhere near enough praise can ever be heaped upon the shoulders of the fine men and women who organise such events. It's always a great idea to visit one happening near you. You never know, you might just discover your new favourite band. The sensation of chancing on a new band whose glorious din reaffirms all the reasons why you voluntarily choose to stand in dark rooms slowly surrendering your hearing to tinnitus is always a thrilling one.

Unfortunately, it's the exact opposite of this sensation which Soundblab experiences when we encounter Eagulls. Coming from a hardcore punk/metal direction, the Leeds band do have undeniable verve and substance to their performance but too many of their songs drag on for too long, the band over-exerting themselves for yet another crescendo of feedback, basic riffs and howling. After a while, it all starts to feel a bit dismal, really, especially since there are definitely strong songs in there somewhere. Still, they have a front man who looks like Bez going to a fancy dress party as Alex Kapranos, so there's always something to maintain visual interest during their set.

Over in the other room (henceforth referred to as the big room) The Pharmacy, all the way from Washington, USA, are busy looking and sounding like they've just stepped out of 1971. The keyboard player looks like the weirdo neighbour from Him & Her if he were played by Vincent Gallo. The bassist, who sports a mighty 'tash, looks like he'd be more at home hanging out on San Francisco's Castro Street with Harvey Milk. Their drummer, meanwhile, is more fringe than man. This itself is, of course, no bad thing, and the music they make is likeably sweet but spooky blues rock. However, so slavish are they in their recreation of their source material it's hard to see why they don't just stay at home, get stoned and listen to their records. I wonder, what do bands such The Pharmacy do when they're not on stage pretending it's 1971? It's hard to imagine any of them using an iPhone.

Finally (for Soundblab) Wonderswan take the stage and rattle through a set of lo-fi, scuzzy but artful indie rock. Wonderswan have got a lot to offer, and have done for a couple of years now, but you kind wish someone would stick a rocket up their arse or something. If they put on a show with as much energy as they reserve for producing squalls of feedback, the crowd tonight would be riveted. But then maybe Soundblab is missing the point somewhat...

Saturday

Now this more like it. Manchester's Dutch Uncles (pictured) take inspiration from the more elemental end of post-punk, mixing some Talking Head's itchiness with the sing-along chorus of an Orange Juice or Teardrop Explodes' song. Both 'Fragrant' and 'The Ink' are arresting, combustible little gems, the latter branching off unexpectedly into slippery punk-funk.

Over in the bar area, the wonderfully named The Horn and the Hunt (they're a duo, although it's not clear which is which) are taking inspiration from Bjork, Portishead, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. Unfortunately, due to the sound not being great and possibly the consumption of some alcohol before the gig, they sometimes sound more like Garbage fronted by a pissed-up Bonnie Tyler. However, when singer Clare Carter starts blowing enthusiastically and a little dementedly on some kind of wind instrument during one song, Soundblab is convinced The Horn and the Hunt have something special going on.

Back in the big room, The Neat are tearing up the place with their jerky, wonky, oh-so-angular post-punk noise. And a bloody good job they do of it too, even if it's a sound which has been made many times before.

Finally, That Fucking Tank treat us to a set which manages to combine the very worst elements of metal with the very worst elements of jazz. Basically, we get endless grinding riffs and ceaseless self-indulgence. It's not pleasant and it's not fun. But, hey ho, that's the way it is with festivals. They're a crucial part of any thriving music scene and, thanks to Play Patterns, Soundblab will be keeping a careful eye on Dutch Uncles, The Horn and the Hunt and The Neat.

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