By: Rich Buley
Happy as I am with my usual surroundings in deepest West Wiltshire, with an incredible thirst for live alternative music being infrequently quenched by trips to the Fleece’s and Thekla’s of that there Bristol, it is always an exciting prospect to occasionally venture east into London, and catch bands that are unlikely to make the opposite journey any time soon.
What made my latest trip all the more alluring was the fact that the night was being organised by the inestimable Goodsoul Promotions, who are a massive supporter of grass-roots live music in and around London, and have put together some fantastic shows over the last few years, at venues such as Water Rats, Dalston Victoria and most regularly, and the location for this one, The Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green.
As part of a 7 date, co-headline tour of the UK, fellow Sheffield post rockers Gilmore Trail and Fly on Byrd, fly on were in the East End, along with experimental/noise rock duo Kellar, from Brighton, who were up first.
Having self-released five full albums and a number of EP’s since their début in 2012, it is very clear that Kellar just want to play. Comprising Andy Pyne on drums and noise-maker in-chief Dan Cross on guitar, they played an entertaining and semi-improvisational thirty minute set of squalling, boundless fare, which to these ears is a jazz-rock hybrid, with Pyne’s frenetic, complex percussion providing Cross with ample opportunities to weave all manner of distorted guitar loops, blasts and wails in and out of the irregular rhythms. Those that arrived early enough to catch them provided a decent atmosphere, and were treated to a gradually accelerating performance, with the duo ‘opening out’ in the latter stages to less unconventional rock structures.
The Seabright basement had filled up rather splendidly by the time Fly on Byrd, fly on began treating us to their intoxicating brew of math-infused instrumental metal. Not a band to have troubled the record scorers in the same way as their predecessors on stage, with the Steel City five-piece having only formally released 1 two track EP so far, at the beginning of last year, they certainly demonstrated that future releases will be well worth waiting for, by passionately serving up a string of well-constructed, supremely executed sonic missiles, or “club bangers!” as guitarist Damian Leighton gleefully announced. The band tend not to follow traditional post rock themes and build structures, but delight and surprise in equal measure with brief moments of ambient delicacy or lingering guitar line smashed out of our heads by powerful and aggressive escalations in sound. Ones to keep an eye on, most certainly.
Gilmore Trail released one of the best post rock albums of recent times with last year’s The Floating World, their second. It was an album that attempted, through instrumental composition, to depict the outstanding beauty and overwhelming power of nature. It did so brilliantly, and is highly recommended.
Having not seen the band play live, I was intrigued to learn whether the accomplished, cavernous style of the album could be reproduced in a live setting. The answer was most assuredly yes, with the four-piece sumptuously gliding through a 45 minute set of exceptionally elegant, instrumental post rock. Gilmore Trail are unafraid to allow open spaces between the elements, to demonstrate through the quality of their playing that not everything needs to be fed through an arsenal of fuzz pedals to achieve a dramatic and emotive end result. They can certainly crank it up when they want to, with the enormous and unexpected explosion during the wonderful ‘Ballard Down’ a case in point, and the fact that they are so restrained with the noise sections makes them so much more effective when they do come.
A quite fabulous evening of instrumental rock music, made all the more special by the superb sound and a wonderfully warm welcome.