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Friday, 7 October 2011

Brown Bear and the Bandits/Mechanical Smile/Athos/Trusty and the Foe/Sam Christison - Su Casa (6/10/11)

Su Casa was gridlocked.
For a cold and damp Thursday night this flies in the face of the normal midweek turn out for a gig.
Once every seat had been taken and the remaining gaps in the room had rapidly filled with standing room only bodies a young Sam Christison took to the microphone to entertain what was literally a captive audience.
Initially over the course of his first song I was unimpressed as the vocals seemed at odds to the self penned song.
That's actually pretty unusual as who knows how to best sing a song other than the person who wrote it?
Thankfully he rolled into a cover song to follow it and in doing so managed to pull things back a bit.
Maybe it was just a case of opening nerves that sabotaged the first song as when he approached the third track, and second original of the night, everything managed to click into place.
There's some nice guitar work on display, some Dylanesque harmonica and a good grounding in providing a performance.
Yet another young artist to keep an eye on that the Su Casa nights throw into the public eye.
Next was an unannounced set from Trusty and the Foe and it is safe to say that familiarity does not breed contempt. In fact the opposite is true as I'm quickly becoming increasingly enamoured with their soft take on indie folk.
The vocals seem to float on top of the finger picking guitar work and while what they do may not appeal to a crowd looking to rock out it is still a thing of sublime beauty.
It's about time they got into a studio and laid down some tracks, and the sooner the better in my opinion.
Athos (who I'd seen playing an accomplished electric set a few weeks ago in the Monkey Bar in Kilmarnock) set up next to do their very first acoustic show and it was a bit of a game of two halves.
The problem is that the acoustic side of things sounds like a work in progress. The first three songs were nearly there, but falling short of nailing it.
It was only midway through the second song that I thought I could put my finger on what was missing and that was the singer loosening up a bit and letting go with a bit more of a roar.
This guy has a voice. I've heard it, but in trying to convert what they do to an acoustic setting he seemed to be trying to interpret it with a different vocal interpretation and it was only partially working
I'd like to see them play acoustically six months from now as I reckon that once they are comfortable with the format it will deliver huge dividends.
The second half of their set seen them becoming more comfortable and there was a definite light at the end of the tunnel.
It's just a bit out of reach at the moment.
Mechanical Smile who were playing this gig as the second night of their Scottish tour were the band who I was very keen to see, and along with Brown Bear the reason why I made the trip to Su Casa.
The last time I seen them live I felt that all the parts were in place, but similarly to Athos acoustically that they were within reach of the prize but falling short of grabbing it.
Now all these months down the line and with a fantastic ep tucked under their belts and loads of gigs ground out they have reached the point of having done that and bought the t-shirt.
All the promise I felt was there has now been delivered upon.
Strong material, tight musicianship and best of all the attitude of a band that know what they are doing and have their eyes set on a bigger and better future.
These guys are far more than a post grunge rock act as their acoustic set proves.
As with all bands a great deal of effort is put into getting a foot on the bottom rung of the music business, and all the effort from Mechanical Smile has brought them to that point right now.
It's going to be interesting to see if they can start climbing higher now.
Last band of the evening was the much lauded Brown Bear and the Bandit.
A band that I seem to have managed to miss again and again until now.
From the moment that the first chord was struck it was very obvious that their reputation as a band to see was well founded. It's an electrifying experience that deserves more than the usual superlative praise that can be heaped on a band.
The guitar, bass and cajón drum is used to mix a heady brew of sound and it's all delivered with a bit of an anarchic edge.
Styles and genres are all there for the picking and the band are elbow deep in bringing it all to the table to flavour their songs.
This is a band that if there was any justice would be featuring heavily in all the 'bands to watch in 2012' lists that proliferate in the 'must read to be classed as cool' magazines, but the main difference from the rest mentioned is that they they really are the band to watch.
So bring on 2012. Brown Bear and the Bandits are ready. Are you?
Truth or Dare by brownbearandthebandits


  1. Well summarised man, was a corking night for all. Had a good talk with Graeme from Athos last night in the boozer. We had a discussion about the obvious impairment of acoustic sets for his vocal style, which, as you've seen, is a real belting style when they're electric. To hit the same notes in a more subdued acoustic format requires utilising the falsetto(head voice) vocal range, which is a different art form that he said he'd not had much experience with, but he's a talent and he did a great job considering.

    A fantastic effort by all artists.

    Quick pointer though - it's a Cajón, a percussion instrument of Peruvian origin.

    I correct you because I care for the greater good :)

  2. The problem with Athos was just one of finding that point where it works vocally within doing the songs acoustically. Graeme has a great voice and and in my opinion should have just let it out.
    Mechanical Smile are a good example of what I mean. The vocals acoustically aren't really that different from electric. It's just the instrumentation backing them up that is different.
    Look at the MTV unplugged sessions. Nirvana etc. Same deal. Different style of playing, but the powerful vocalists still let rip.
    Thanks for that re the drum. I'll change it just now.

  3. was great night looking back :D

  4. such a great intimate venue, mechanical smile are amazing!

  5. mechanical smile were out and about in glasgow today lol funny guys !

  6. fif you see the sittin on the toilet vid lawl with a capital LAWL lolz

  7. amazing venue, amazing bands playng. mechanical smile stole the show for me :)

  8. who was the little guy opening for mechanical smile that night, he had a great voice.

  9. think it was guy called sam christiison, he plays drums as well.
    hdb22 shoul have read the start of the blog and not went straight to bit bout mechanical smile lol

  10. lol good point anon, but mechancial smile are just the bees knees :P

  11. It was Sam Christison, he has a four track ep available for download or you can pop into Cu Casa and buy a hard copy of it.
    I seen him play again recently and he has improved from that nights performance.