You know the drill by now, usually I’ll start these things with a strenuous and laboured preamble to set the scene for you. Hello, I’m Adam …yada yada… this is Month of Fridays …blah blah… by gosh, isn’t it such a good idea …etc etc… here’s a pint of Guinness. I’m going to assume now that you’ve been inside the Cluny before, are remotely familiar with the premise of live music and have heard me prattle on enough about what those behind the MOF gigs are trying to do here.
Besides, if there was one thing tonight the was missing, it was the formalities.
So we’ll get straight down to it. The first band of the evening were Cauls, a Newcastle four-piece who appeared to be part-human and part-effects pedals in almost equal measure. Taking to a stage which, strewn with plugs, wires and lit only by a few floor lamps, looked like a space-age IKEA dungeon, the band rattled through a set as technically and ideologically stunning as anything seen in this venue previous. At first I was a bit surprised that I’d never heard of them before, then I was embarrassed, and finally ashamed.
Between the conventional trinity of guitar, bass and drums that seemed to include hell’s own cymbals, they unchained a performance that was as sudden and thunderous as god stubbing his toe. Whilst at times I did over ape its influences, borrowing the odd idea isn’t cheating the audience when you’ve got the technical mastery to pull it off. Post-hardcore, if that’s the label you’d feel most comfortable giving them, is a very dangerous game to play. Do it badly, and there’s almost nothing worse; do it well, and there’s almost nothing better. Cauls, I’m pleased to report, are lodged very firmly in the latter camp.
Then their was the singer. Devoid of the usual local patter and dulcet Northern tones, his slight Durst-ian twang was made instantly forgivable by his arsenal of shrieks and sermons that bled into the work of the other three. He was perfectly syncopated, but still seemingly oblivious to the ear-splitting ferocity of what was going on around him, like some sort of Asperger’s megaphone.
They even possessed a workable dynamic, the proverbial golden hen of every band who’ve listened to At The Drive-In and thought “we could do that”. Breaking up a set of monstrous snaps, crackles and pops with the odd subtle and experimental waltz, which still somehow reflected their ferocity, bubbling Vesuvius-like under the surface, Cauls managed to appeal to the head, as well as the fist.
It was hard to envy Holy Mammoth then, not only having to go on after that, but being drafted in as late replacements for frenzied riff-merchants In Oceans. I’d seen them a week previous at Split Parade, when they were abuzz with energy and enthusiasm, but tonight even their body language gave away how daunting the task ahead of them was.
In truth, Holy Mammoth were a bad fit for this slot. In the context of what they were sandwiched in between, and if you’ll excuse the analogy, their set had all the problems of trying to going in for a second round of shagging, too quickly after the first. Whilst not unenjoyable, it was a bit flaccid, a bit limp and went on just that little bit too long.
You could see why In Oceans were originally booked for this. Stylistically expansive and technically dazzling, replacing them with a band who still sway between being catchy and engaging, and predictable and repetitive, was never going to work. This doesn’t make them a bad band of course, it’s just that the fineries of gig dynamics probably meant they should have been on first.
In fairness to them though, they couldn’t be faulted for effort and a few tunes in particular really channeled their crunching Dinosaur Jr vibe to great effect. I can only hope that anyone who was catching them for the first time sees them again in slightly more favourable conditions.
Then of course we had tonight’s headliners, Eagulls, who had journeyed all the way up the A1 from Leeds to be here. Even if they’d stayed there though, you’d probably still have been able to hear them.
Recent serial back-patting in everything from the NME to Vice, (via my former flatmate crashing through the door after Camden Crawl and cutting through a haze of cider and whizz to tell me they were the best thing he’d ever seen) ensured there was no shortage of hype going into tonight.
Fronted by some sort of SS re-imagining of Ian Curtis, who was wielding a tambourine as superfluous as a smile on a page 3 girl, Eagulls set about barraging the Cluny 2 with a special blend of anthemic, fist in the air, holiday hardcore that had the crowd in astonishing head-banging fettle. Well, the crowd they brought with them anyway.
Which brings me to tonight’s major problem.
Be it the weather, the distance from payday or even one of the other plethora of sensational gig options going on in the region that evening, something had kept a lot of people away. Not as well attended as the previous two events, neither the surreal euphoria that accompanied Minotaurs set, nor the joyous inclusivity that The Jezebels brought with them were here tonight and the gig really suffered as a result.
Eagulls were as much a presence on the stage, with 5 lads rattling through a repertoire of working-class angst and punk heroics, as they were off it, with an impressive number of ultras making the journey up with them. It almost felt like watching an entirely separate gig inside the one we’d come to see. The oily ordeal of throwing pints around and shoving your mates simply not mixing well with the watery curiosity of of a crowd who just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
If nothing else though, this was yet another new experience care of Month of Fridays, which is suppose is just as important. Onward!
By Adam Clery KYEO
Photos: Stephen Noble