Going into a gig almost completely unaware and unprepared for what you’re about to hear is an interesting thing. I arrived at Clwb Ifor Bach with very little knowledge of any of the bands playing, besides a few quick listens to some stuff on the internet earlier that day, so I was somewhat excited and anxious for what the night had in store for me.
First up were local act RADSTEWART, a four-piece consisting of your standard bass, drums, guitar set up. The band describe themselves as, well not a lot really; their Facebook page and their Bandcamp are completely lacking in any sort of attempts to sum themselves up with anything other than their names and a line from an old Beatles song. They take to the stage all dressed in shirts with a couple going the extra mile and adding jazzy ties and then proceeded to thrash their way through their opening number with punk-like aggression and a tangible passion. However, the set doesn’t continue with such force and fury as their opener, as RADSTEWART slide liberally across rock and roll history picking out their favourite bits and throwing them all in together. At once a song, in the middle of the set, is charged with energy yet somehow feels like an out and out piece of laid back, hazy rock before they jumpstart again and we’re flung once more into a turbulence of noisy guitar fuzz and snappy drums. The lead vocalist, Jac, sings, shouts and mumbles his way through the set in a James Murphy like fashion and it really adds something to the songs. At first disconcerting, his style rapidly grows on you until you’re hanging on his every word as he waxes lyrical about cock-blockers, hip kids and eskimos. All in all the whole set, from the wide array of genres and influences to the shirts and ties and the bands onstage antics, had a real sense of organised chaos. Meticulously organised chaos.
Next to take to the stage were Newport band Science Bastard, a band whose songs lean dangerously over the edge at the heavier end of the alternative rock spectrum. With enormous riffs, shotgun drums and thumping bass throughout their relatively short set is a tour de force of in-your-face, loud alt-rock. Sadly Science Bastard, who are usually a four-piece, were without their main vocalist on this occasion so played as a three-piece with the guitarist taking on the role of the vocalist as well. As a result I don’t feel I got the chance to experience the songs in all their glory, which is a shame because some of their stuff online sounds absolutely fantastic. Their guitarist Jonny did put in a good shift as the replacement vocalist however and for that I applaud him. It felt unfair to judge the band completely when they were lacking in such vital personnel and so as a result I will point you in the direction of some of their music, let you listen to it yourselves and encourage you to go and see them live at some point.
The headline act of the night were The Chapman Family, a band who have been around for a while now constantly teetering on the verge of the indie/underground scene and the more mainstream indie-rock scene. Even so I had not heard much of them, I’d listened to a few bits and bobs here and there over the past few years but never gone out of my way to sit down and have a proper listen to their music. As a result I was totally unprepared for what followed as they took to the stage. Looking at them, a gang of lanky, skinny-jeaned, floppy haired guys you could be forgiven for expecting some run of the mill indie rock, but you would be totally wrong. What The Chapman Family do when they perform is they smack you in the face with a relentless set of overwhelming noise rock, barely pausing for breath or reflection the entire time. Their songs are founded on an undercurrent of constant drones and screeches from lead singer Kingsley’s keyboard but they are joined by wave after wave of fierce riffs and intermittent but perpetually abrasive lead guitar lines. This vast ocean of cacophonous noise is then drenched in a tsunami of reverb that makes everything sound about fifty times bigger than it actually is and when you have a sound this big, that really is no mean feat. The music has some clear post-punk influences and it’s difficult not to recognise Kingsley’s monotone vocal style as being reminiscent of Ian Curtis or Ian McCulloch, though perhaps with an added level of angst. The Chapman Family are definitely one of those bands that need to be seen live, on record the sheer size of their sound is not as clear but in a tiny room on a wet Cardiff evening it was impossible to ignore. A great performance from the band that topped off a fantastic gig at Clwb Ifor Bach thanks, once again, to Jealous Lovers Club.
Joseph Ainscough, @TheJoeSco
You can follow all of the aforementioned bands of Twitter by clicking here for RADSTEWART, here for Science Bastard and here for The Chapman Family. You can also stay up to date with everything Jealous Lovers Club is doing by following them too.
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