I've been a fan of Lorelle Meets The Obsolete for a while now, certainly since their 2014 album Chambers, but whilst I've thoroughly enjoyed their recorded output this would be my first experience of the band as a live outfit.
Tonight's support comes from KGD a solo noise/ambient project from Kevn Doria, who at various points in his career has been a member of Growing and Hiss Tracts (the latter a collaboration with Godspeed You! Black Emperor's David Bryant). I sadly miss the first five minutes of his set, so by the time I arrive the large room is already swelling with droning synth and bass sounds. I imagine it started more subtly but I'm smashed in the face by its full force. And I like it.
It's not often that I attend gigs that are in any way popular, so it was quite a surprise to arrive at a packed out Tyne bar on a Sunday night. Locals Okay Champ are first to take the stage and its an instantly engaging introduction to the band formed from the ashes of Nately's Whore's Kid Sister (a band that completely passed me by somehow, despite being constantly told that they were class by various friends and media outlets) and also featuring ex-members of Your Codenameis:milo and Let's Buy Happiness.
Tonight's bill consists of two bands that sound quite different live, compared to how they come across in a studio. First up is hotly tipped North London band Girl Ray, and whilst the difference here is less obvious, there's still a noticeable contrast. Where their (admittedly scarce) recorded output seems for the most part carefree and whimsical (take their track "Stupid Things" which has a clear Gorkys influence running through it) their live show, whilst still leisurely, seems much more gritty.
Thursday night at Think Tank. It's a venue in Newcastle that's gradually growing on me. Small enough to host most of the bands that I like, and scruffy enough to have a bit of character. Tonight though... well, I think it's safe to say that this isn't the biggest crowd that these bands will ever play to. Maybe everyone was watching The Ladyboys of Bangkok in the MASSIVE tent outside.
Anyway, the slightly flat atmosphere didn't really affect The Welcome Party who fire up their instruments and it's all guns blazing.
Newcastle on a Bank Holiday Monday night. Not the most conducive environment for a rock 'n roll show. There's a collective tiredness emitting from the audience before the band come on, and I'm no exception having spent the weekend freezing my bones off in a tent and attending a "kids Glastonbury" near Leeds, which seems to be getting some unwanted press as the worst festival in the world (it wasn't that bad for the record, I got to see Mr Bloom's mind-blowing live show).
First on the bill tonight a the tiny, shabby Think Tank are Big Figure, a local band of young'ns who play a short set of indie-by-numbers tunes. The music is competent but slightly turgid, like Oasis when they were going through the motions, or more accurately a young band that haven't quite found their feet yet. The most eye catching thing about them is their singer who has bags of confidence and peacocks around the stage with some dodgy moves which emulate Jagger, Presley and even a strangulated Kingsley Chapman (the last one might not be deliberate) with limited success.
Black Spirituals are a two-piece from Oakland, California, literally bringing the noise to Newcastle with an intense attention-grabbing performance. They seem to be an ambient-noise band with a jazz band ethic, a classier Lightning Bolt shall we say? This seems completely wrong on paper but works surprisingly well with the jazz element creeping in through Marcshall Trammell's erratic improvisational drumming (his slightly stunted - but thoroughly endearing - introduction after their first song isn't a million miles away from jazz room shtick either).
This gig has been put on by Middlesbrough promoters The Kids Are Solid Gold who have a habit of booking great bands for one-off gigs, usually bringing multiple acts together for mouth watering one off line-ups. You could almost call them the ATP of the North, just without the financial irregularities.
Just over two years since my first Allo Darlin' live experience I gleefully return to the same venue for seconds. The gig is sold out (so was the last one from memory), so I can only assume that the band love it here and are sticking with it whilst their popularity will just about allow it. It's hard to blame them really because The Star and Shadow Cinema is a fantastic venue, Newcastle's hidden gem and a true co-operative that relies on volunteers to keep the place going.