As In Bear – Bar Bloc, Glasgow – 13/7/11

Posted: 14/07/2011 in Local Music
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A pre-gig look at As In Bear’s Facebook shows a photo of an open space in a crowd wherein lies the wreckage of what was clearly once a guitar and drumkit, as one onlooker – presumably a band member – clutches a broken drumstick. This serves as welcome respite from the usual generic band pictures and the image’s connotations of destruction and disorder succeed in evoking tremendous excitement at the prospect of seeing these guys live.

No more than twenty people occupy Bar Bloc, as tables are cleared away to create standing room in front of the stage, and that’s counting the members of the other two bands on the bill and the staff. There is the disappointing feeling that what looked set to be an evening of swirling bodies, flailing limbs and instruments in flight is going to turn out to be something of a non-event.

As In Bear (made up of David the guitarist and Grant the drummer) take the stage and it’s bated breath all round…

All fears immediately subside as the first note of opener Too Bad triggers an explosion of energy which sees David abandoning the confines of the stage area and tearing straight out into the middle of the modest audience. Territory firmly mapped out, he launches into a one-man riot of mesmerising proportions, equal parts frenetic dance and out-of-control seizure.

Grant takes his cue from this and the drums kick into full force as he assumes a frantic demeanour which matches that of his fellow noise-merchant perfectly. Every beat is a veritable assault; his face set somewhere between a growl and a grimace as he proceeds to lash his kit, as though intent upon some crazed sonic vendetta.

And with this, the tone of the performance is well and truly established. With each successive song, the pair wade further into their auditory catharsis, dragging the audience in with them as heads and feet move in time with every crash of a drum or slash at a set of strings.

As In Bear’s material being entirely instrumental, it is to their immense credit that they manage to keep everyone in the venue captivated for the duration of their set, given how difficult it can be to draw in listeners without the hook of lyrics or vocal melodies to compliment the music. It is, without a doubt, their stage presence and enthusiasm which sees them so effortlessly surmount this obstacle.

That’s not to say that their music itself isn’t accomplished, if tending towards the abrasive, but it wouldn’t do to get too hung up on the intricacies of As In Bear’s sound when looking at this performance. Although their offerings do vary from studio to live setting, in terms of volume and violence in delivery, the part of the evening truly deserving of coverage is the sheer energy on display.

A few more spectators arrive as the set progresses but that’s really neither here nor there. What started out as a fairly empty and subdued room felt instantly packed the minute the duo launched into their performance. In a situation where the tenor of the evening rested solely on how the band decided to carry themselves, As In Bear have succeeded in setting the place alight with a captivating blast of passionate vehemence.

Watching them peel through their set, the mind goes to all those interviews with bands who have ‘made it’ and their talk of still having given it their all during early shows, the sincerity of which often seems so dubious. The mind goes to those moments and returns to the centre of Bar Bloc to focus on a band who will be able to regale such stories without the slightest fabrication and a sense of superiority abounds with the realisation that everyone present in the room will be able to stand as testament to that.

Little is said between songs, with David confessing to those gathered that their “patter is shite.” There is a cursory introduction and a shout out to Bar Bloc as their “favourite venue” but the only extended monologue comes from David when he acknolwedges the two bands above them on the bill. This is a genuinely humble moment which makes apparent As In Bear’s knowledge of the scene they are a part of, as well as their admiration for their fellow performers. This seems appropriate, given that there’s really no need for arrogance or ‘swagger’ when your performance hits as hard as theirs does.

In spite of this evening of huge positives, one thing As In Bear definitely need to work on is their self-promotion. There was no entry fee for this gig and the headliners, Mojo Fury, have a fairly high profile at present. As a result, the crowd should never have been so small.

This is a band that deserves a hardcore following and this was a show that should not have been missed. Outside of writing or performing, garnering a loyal fanbase ought to be David and Grant’s main priority until such time as venues like Bar Bloc are heaving with people itching to get in on the action.

Overall though, As In Bear prove a fantastic experience. The set doesn’t deliver quite the level of destruction and disorder hinted at by the picture on the band’s Facebook – although the close of the last song does see David’s guitar being dropped like a piece of trash and left in the middle of the floor –  but this omission is more than made up for in energy and enthusiasm. It is fantastic to see musicians with the balls to just throw themselves into a performance with such abandon, regardless of the size of their audience.

More of this is needed!


As In Bear on Facebook

  1. […] As In Bear – Bar Bloc, Glasgow – 13/7/11 […]

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