Live (Magnolia / Moral Low Ground / Neon Vice)

Local four-piece, Magnolia, started the night off and were accompanied by an impressively large collective of family and friends. Looking very young and green they excelled in parts such as the Kravitz-esque guitar solos and thumping basslines, but overall don’t seem ready to be gigging yet.

The lead singer’s voice sounded nasal and not quite right for some of the songs, such as the Metallica cover ‘Nothing Else Matters’, but it improved as the set progressed, especially when hitting the lower notes in songs like ‘Fading Away’. Sharing vocals or introducing harmonies to a selection of tracks would certainly help out in this respect.

Magnolia seem highly able to combine their influences with their own ideas and originality; they have the basics, the passion and the support, but they need more practice. They weren’t tight enough and spent a lot of time tuning up and fiddling around. This was made more obvious because of the lack of interaction with the audience and it left the feeling that the finishing touches were missing. 

In contrast, Moral Low Ground leapt onto the stage without any inhibitions or very many clothes! They had real rock attitude, crazy facial hair and produced a lot of noise and sweat. The drummer was outstanding and more dexterous than an octopus, but the lead singer’s voice was something of an acquired taste – sounding like a character from Sesame Street that’s turned very nasty.

In one of the best spectacles ever witnessed at a local gig, the lead guitarist dived off the stage and literally bounced around the floor while strobe lights flickered manically. A crowd of enthusiastic youngsters then bundled in, moshing into him and each other. This pandemonium, coupled with the pure heaviness of the set, ensured that Moral Low Ground were possibly the most memorable band of the night. 

Neon Vice, a local four-piece who do leopard print better than Kat Slater and always look as though they’ve raided the fancy dress box, provided more accessible, bluesy rock – the kind where you can actually hear the lyrics and pick out the catchier tunes.

Their short set included imaginative use of distortion as well as military and big bass drums, and was so polished and professional that songs like ‘Bring It All Down’ looked enviously effortless. The engaging lead singer deserves credit for valiantly trying to get the crowd going when some were leaving and the rest simply hyperventilating after Moral Low Ground. It’s such a shame that some bands (you know who you are) don’t stick around to see each other play. 

Kumiss, who admit to getting their name (which means fermented milk) straight from the dictionary, arrived on stage looking slightly nervous and talking over one another. But any initial doubt was soon forgotten as the local four-piece launched into their set with a RHCP-style riff and a fast, funky beat. The drummer, although clearly round the bend, astounded the crowd as he ably created various effects from tension-building, to conveying the feeling of having buckets of cold water thrown over you in quick succession (excellent, unique, but difficult to describe).

There were many exceptional moments in Kumiss’ set, but they really shone when absorbed in loud and fancy improvisation like Foo Fighters and RHCP’s live sets. What let Kumiss down, apart from the need for more interaction with the audience, was the lead singer’s apparent lack of confidence. This man has a great voice and needs to have more faith in himself; he also needs to figure out how he’s going to occupy himself – and us – during instrumentals. As Moral Low Ground demonstrated, a live band is not remembered purely on their music, however good, but for the show they put on for the crowd.

Written by Bussey on


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