Nirvana, post-Richey Manics, Therapy, Rod, Jane & Freddy – the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is crammed with bands who make more noise than three people have a right to.
It’s appropriate then that 3/4 of the bands at tonight’s CD Quality gig are three-pieces, proving that Edinburgh’s got its fair share of rock trios who pack a punch.
This is one of a monthly series of gigs put on by local promoters Bainbridge Presents…, with the aim of allowing the bands playing to promote and shift their CDs and merchandise. Angus “it’s not curly, it’s wavy” Ross from Bainbridge mans the stock table and keeps things running smoothly; as well as entering into the spirit of things by headbanging around the dancefloor every now and again.
First up are Wildtype. Promoting their EP “The Combine”, these three plug their amps into the earth’s core and unleash massive – and melodic – sonic waves of metal-plated grunge. Guitarist and vocalist Marky screams his way through a powerful set whilst bassist Ehdee underscores the numbers with seismic basslines. As is always the case at Henry’s, drummer Ewen is consigned to the shadowy background, but that doesn’t stop him beating seven shades out of his kit, pounding out the kind of rhythms you can feel rattling your ribcage.
This lot have the tunes, a commendable ‘take it or leave it’ attitude – and they certainly have the volume. If Edinburgh ever suffers a massive earthquake, Wildtype will be there, feet straddling the fault line. In fact, their riff-laden rock will probably have caused it.
Next up are odd-men-out Underclass. Odd tonight due to the fact that there’s five of them. They’re also the most mainstream of the bands on the bill tonight, and their anthemic psychedelic-tinged rock draws the biggest crowd. Vocalist John Keeney – who just makes it to the gig on time – shares a trait with Kelly Jones and James Dean Bradfield: he may not be tall, but man, his voice is 30,000 feet high.
Songs like “Beat Your Fist” give Keeney a runway to let his vocals take off and soar, circling high above the cracking sound the rest of Underclass produce. Keyboard player Kev O’Rourke’s swirling accompaniments add a lot to Underclass’ sound, leading it Pied Piper-like into some pretty funky territory. Guitarist Mikey Robertson is the first to follow, and there are times when the guitar and keys take Underclass into the sonic swirls of the sixties.
A cracking set from these kids, and I’d be surprised it they remain unsigned for long.
We’re back down to three with the pop punk passion of March Her To Norway next. This lot not only have the best band name of the night, but their tuneful and energetic set is also a definite highlight. Taking cues from the likes of Feeder and Queens of the Stone Age (frontman Andrew Valentine definitely has a touch of the Josh Hommes about him), their songs are classic three-minute wonders, hook-filled and powerful.
Bare-chested and bespectacled drummer Michael Field goes ape behind the kit like Clark Kent on speed, whilst Ewen Gibson does that feet-apart thing all bassists should by law be forced to do. Valentine leads the sortie with razor-sharp guitar-work and vocals, and numbers like “Save Me” and “Cute As A Button” are on fire with white-hot guitar and incendiary rhythm. If this crowd do end up on a forced march to Norway, all the snow there’s going to melt.
A Fight You Can’t Win take home the award for best banter of the night (unrepeatable here, we’re a family-friendly website). Though they claim grunge as a major influence, these guys dig up the corpse of late 70s UK & Irish punk and reanimate it with a million-mile-an-hour sound that doesn’t stop until its veins pop.
Without their normal drummer, Hagana’s David Chisolm steps in behind the skins, hammering away with pneumatic power as guitarist / vocalist Matthew Bakewell and bassist Paul Diamond compete with each other to see who can be first to melt their guitar.
“This is going to hurt,” says Bakewell, before launching into another axe-thrashing number. A Fight You Can’t Win’s set is angry and raw, but still shot through with enough tune and melody to create a dynamic live sound which fills the venue and threatens to chuck you out the windows. Though their set is cut short slightly due to time constraints, their controlled chaos is still ringing in your ears after the last hum of the amps dies down.
The merchandise table is nearly bare by the time CD Quality draws to close – proof of a successful, varied and great-value Bainbridge gig. On the strength of this, you’d be wise to check out future gigs put on by Angus & Chris – you’re pretty much guaranteed a quality night, and you may just discover your new favourite band into the bargain.