Tiny Pop Presents.... Green Pop in a Red Rum - The Chemic Tavern, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Tiny Pop Presents.... Green Pop in a Red Rum - The Chemic Tavern, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2011-12-17

It’s been a very busy month in the world of Tiny Pop Presents as tonight sees yet another gig roll into view. Each gig has been a memorable mishmash of bands and performers, from ukulele soft-rock covers to up-and-coming post-punk acts, garage-rock outfits and melancholic singer-songwriters. Each gig also holds host to one of Rachael Rix-Moore’s pop-up bands; the Tiny Pop organiser/head-honcho plans to form and perform with 13 different bands in 2015.

It must be exhausting but as each gig brings Rix-Moore’s ambitious masterplan closer to completion it must also be incredibly satisfying. Tonight see’s the venue shift to The Chemic Tavern in Woodhouse and promises to be a celebration of ale and musical diversity.

As the project collects musicians as it passes through the months, tonight sees the return of violinist Chrissie Caulfield. Caufield last graced the Tiny Pop stage with experimental violin-and-guitar-drone two-piece Helicopter Quartet back in January. Tonight’s solo performance is equally stunning, as Caulfield guides us through even more avant-garde spaces with the aid of an electric violin and a whole host of effects-pedals.

The strange, hypnotic sounds engulf the room. If there’s anyone still talking and not listening than I’m blissfully unaware. The sound shifts between ethereal, sometimes unnerving soundscapes and Caulfield’s haunting, beautiful arrangements. It’s a really special performance and a live experience I can’t recommend enough.

The mood shifts considerably with the arrival of acoustic two-piece, The Roman Empire. After some technical difficulties, the band plays unplugged from the main system, which suits their intimate melodies down to the ground.

The room falls silent as the duo ease us into the evening with the soothing swoon (despite lyrics concerning radiation and the end of the world) of ‘Keeping Us Warm’. The duo's songs and between-song banter are infused with humour, while their warm, gentle harmonies bring a disarming melancholy to any topic they choose to approach.

It’s the duo's sensitive, almost Iron & Wine delivery that adds a genuine sadness to the likes of tounge-in-cheek Rapture ballad ‘No Pets in Heaven’. Song topics are something of a speciality, as we’re played odes to the Queen and her favourite alcoholic tipple (gin, of course), Walter Fredrick Morrison (the inventor of the Frisbee) and even a specially penned song about The Tiny Pop Project itself. Simple melodies (played on guitar, ukulele, keyboard, and banjo) coupled with the duo's idiosyncratic approach to songcraft make The Roman Empire one of Leeds' best kept secrets. All hail!

Next up we get Rix-Moore’s second pop-up band of the month, the wonderfully surreal Green Pop in a Red Rum. Like all the previous pop-up bands, tonight’s act is a tribute to a band from Rix-Moore’s past. The band (Rix-Moore on drums and Helicopter Quartets Mike Capstick on guitar) serve as a musical epitaph for the lengthy-jam-workouts of short-lived 2003 band Green Clock in a Red Room.

The band opens with a brilliantly doom-ridden rendition of the Rainbow theme tune (“Paint the whole world with a Rainbow!”), Capstick’s guitar making a hypnotic, downbeat riff out of the original theme's sprightly arrangements. It’s the kind of unexpected, fun and unique opening gambit that these pop-up bands have become known for and it’s perfect in all its strange, discordant glory. God only knows what Zippy and Bungle would make of it all. 

The duo throw in a You’re a Face cover (yet another of Rix-Moore’s bands) with a grunge-y ode to being a pirate and Pavement's eternally perfect garage-punk classic ‘Box Elder’ before bringing Caulfield back on stage for a rather beautiful collaborative piece. The set ends with a noisy wig-out, Rix-Moore's impressive drum skills and Capstick’s heroically noisy riffs set to a loop of The Beatles singing “Yeah, yeah, yeah”. Shouldn’t every set end like this?  

The night comes to a close with a set from Leeds’ experimental (yet danceable) viola, drums and math-rock riffs rock unit, Invisible Cities. The band play rhythmically tight, propulsive instrumentals; the arrangements are complicated yet there’s some satisfyingly funky (yes, funky) grooves to get lost in too.

Jeff T Smith (also known as multi-instrumentalist Juffage) sits in on drums, giving each piece a substantially thunderous beat, while it’s Jenna Isherwood’s viola that gives heart to the band's locomotive-esque momentum. Tonight will be Invisible Cities' penultimate gig, which is a great shame as they’re clearly a band in their prime.

The night ends with yet more ales and a few shots for the road before I stumble out into the night air, safe in the knowledge that there will be another Tiny Pop shindig come June…

January gig

February gig

March gig

April gig

May part one gig

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