[PART 1 OF 3] Ayrshire Showcase – Pivo Pivo, Glasgow – 4/9/11

Posted: 05/09/2011 in Local Music
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

All is fairly quiet during the descent of the Pivo Pivo staircase to where the Kitchen Sessions stage is functioning as the platform for the provision of a chilled out acoustic start to the proceedings. Leisurely afternoon drinks wash down free pizza, as those assembled mill around sharing greetings and discussing the talent already on display. All in all, a pleasantly subdued start to the Ayrshire Showcase.

Of course, as soothing and enjoyable as this display may be, it’s not an experience remotely out of the ordinary for anyone in attendance. So, by the time 5pm rolls around and the attention of those assembled begins to wander to the A Series of Controlled Explosions stage due to open in the venue’s adjacent section, there is a tangible air of expectation as the collective consciousness ruminates on exactly how important a moment in time this showcase will prove itself to be.

The crowd are promptly ushered through the two arched doorways into the room where all such musings come to an abrupt halt as As In Bear set about offering up ample justification for the use of any of the plethora of potential puns that can be derived from the name of this second of the two stages.

Upon entry, it becomes immediately apparent that the duo – never one in favour of the preservation of the divide between artist and audience – have completely rejected the idea of performing on the stage they are opening. There exists standing room only, as seats and tables have been removed in order to accomodate Grant, his drum kit and a worryingly unsteady looking makeshift platform upon which stands David, replete with guitar and a look of steely intent.

For the duration of this first slot on the bill, the room is engulfed in a more frenzied affair than even As In Bear generally provide, as the swelling crowd forces bodies closer into the middle where instruments and performers alike are flung around with complete abandon and waves of unforgiving sound are thrashed out in every direction.

An all-too-brief setlist is punctuated with some well-placed dedications and then, in what feels like an acknowledgement of the gig’s significance, the boys unleash a finale even more delightfully chaotic than usual, as Grant’s drums are speedily assembled atop the aforementioned platform and he proceeds to leather his way through a display of sticksmanship which could not be accurately described as anything less than an attack. It is a testament to the appreciation the pair inspire in their audience that the drummer is rescued from several near falls by the willing hands of the crowd who keep him on balance until the crescendo proves too much, the drum stool is discarded and the final crashes are played out – without any noticeable missing of a beat – by a percussionist with one foot on the ground and the other on a pedal raised three feet in the air and attached to a falling kit.

The phrase reverberating around the room is “holy shit!”

As In Bear - Photograph by Kenny Bates

With the audience still reeling from As In Bear’s visceral onslaught, In:Auters return proceedings to the stage for their debut live performance. The four-piece’s first two songs bookend a fairly lengthy period of fiddling with their equipment and nary an acknowledgement that they are in front of an audience until the end of the second number when a brief mumble informs of their name and newcomer status. Musically, In:Auteurs’ set proves a treat, awash as it is with ambient buzzing, droning guitars, understated vocals and a cool retro shoegaze sort of feel.

Unfortunately, this has to be offset against a disappointingly low level of enthusiasm and a lack of any real performance to speak of. Even during the heavier moments of their set, every member appears rooted to the spot with eyes thoroughly averted from the crowd. Being that this is the band’s first gig, some ambiguity does exist as to whether this is the result of genuine apathy, nerves or a misguided attempt at hipster posturing. Whatever it is though, the problem it presents is that their first offering doesn’t serve as much of an unveiling. It is hard to imagine that anyone who watched the set came away from it feeling like they knew any more about In:Auteurs than they did before.

Nonetheless, for tonight at least, their musical performance proves strong enough to maintain the attention and appreciation of the crowd and, when there is no warning before their last song and just another cursory expression of thanks, the idea of this ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude as design rather than accident begins to warrant consideration. After all, the conveyance of such a slacker image is undeniably well suited to their musical style and any effort of a band to present themselves as a package – no matter how lifeless – is always admirable.

In:Auteurs - Photograph by Kenny Bates

A welcome return to a world where artists introduce themselves with confidence and self-assurance comes courtesy of Brown Bear and the Bandits, a three-piece with the uncommon allure of a female drummer who recently erupted onto the Ayrshire scene seemingly out of nowhere.

The first song sets a momentum that endures throughout a set that has the room captivated, as traditional rock ‘n’ roll sensibility melds with strained grungey vocals, inescapable charisma and an unshakably upbeat delivery. Perhaps most worthy of note though, as much for its simplicity as for its effectiveness, is how happy each member of the band appears throughout the set, the drummer clearly having real problems keeping a grin from spreading across her face which appears to inspire similar difficulties in much of the audience.

Brown Bear and the Bandits emit a vibe that wouldn’t seem out of place in a blue collar New Jersey bar and the only real surprises come with a fairly confrontational segment of a song entitled Destiny Dancing and a rendition of the opening verse of Sugarhill Gang’s classic Rapper’s Delight.

Of course, well documented is the procedure for something that ain’t broke and the confessional nature of lyrics like “It’s not that I don’t love you; It’s just that I don’t care” have a timeless appeal that ties in perfectly with the ballsy and emphatic performance to ensure that the trio’s name resides on the lips of those present until well after their set draws to a close.

Brown Bear and the Bandits - Photograph by Kenny Bates

As In Bear on Facebook

In:Auteurs on Facebook

Brown Bear and the Bandits on Facebook

[Section 2 of 3 available tomorrow night…]

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