Live (Atlantic Dash / Street Regal / Koala)
The first band to take to the stage at the Bull and Gate, Kentish Town, were Atlantic Dash. Playing some rather formulated pop-rock music, Atlantic Dash were saved from criticism by three things:
Firstly, the performance was energetic and full of variety. The front man could be abusing the microphone stand at one moment, the keyboard the next moment, and performing a nerve-racking balancing act on a drum stool after that.
Points two and three take the form of ‘Opportunity’ and ‘Solitude’; two very different songs that stood out from the other material like coal on snow. With vocal and musical hooks throughout, complemented by a ton of chops and changes, these songs were the standout moments in their set.
Street Regal took to the stage with the kind of confidence that used to be demonstrated by those britpop fella’s that always argued with each other!
Front man, Guyy, spurned his guitar on many occasions to grasp the microphone in both hands and deliver the lyrics with more guts than a butchers bin. The whole band are musically very competent, but this hasn’t stopped them from keeping things simple when they need to be. All credit to Waller, who is the least intrusive keyboard player in the world, inserting a subtle ambience or melodic line at just the right moments to thicken up the sound.
Judging by this performance, Street Regal are ready for anything with a set full of big songs and the attitude to perform them.
Koala were next up with a set of songs that were very familiar, sounding at various moments like Supergrass, T-Rex, Greenday and the Beatles. The line up was a simple three piece, with both bassist and guitarist sharing the singing duties and pouncing around the stage in between. The vocals were a fair effort, although a little bit of work tightening them up would be well rewarded.
The disappointment with Koala was the backing track. Having heard a similar idea executed rather well recently by The Sonic Underground, the problem with Koala’s backing track was that it was a distraction that hijacked half the songs. If it had been taken out of the equation entirely, there may have been more room for the live instruments to play in.
The other item on the proposal for change was the bass-sound. The bass guitar was very well played, but the actual sound strayed too far into the audio spectrum used by the guitar. This resulted in an overall thin sound with everything competing for those middle frequencies. All these points were a shame, because it was impossible not to be won over by these guys and there are some good songs that would really shine with these minor changes.
Headliners, Crystalline, walked on stage and started with a pretentious wall of noise and feedback, with an elongated guitar-shaking intro. I was tired, they were wasting my time, I wanted to hate them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t, because they were bloody fantastic.
The songs were reminiscent of Marion and AC/DC, with just the one exception; almost every track contained a hook, mostly on the guitar, but also in the vocal melody. Phenomenal drumming backed up this stadium-rock sound and by the end of the second tune the poor start was forgotten.
While the screwed-up eyeball look shows passion, it would be great if singer opened his eyes occasionally and got some eye contact with the crowd, so he could see how much they’re enjoying the show!
Written by Smith on