As Friends Rust / Spy versus Spy / Cusack

Derby Vic

July 29 1999

Well, I've felt like shit all week with a cold, and spending an evening in the baking heat of the back room of the Vic probably isn't going to help. But at least I've got something to take my mind of things. It's been a while since me and the old backpacks have been in contact, and I was almost begining to realise how much I hate been hit by one minutes after the owner has walked by with it. One day I'm going to do an interview or survey with these owners, just to find out exactly what it is that they keep in them, what it is that means that each and everyone of them has to bring one along. You never, ever see anything come out of them.

Anyway, Cusack probably own some as well, but at the moment, they're at least redeeming themselves by playing the music. "We're jumping on to the emo-bandwagon" the vocalist jokes as they near the end of the set. Wouldn't know about that, but the problem with emo as I see it, is that it can tread the line of being indie bollocks and "oh so serious and sincere". And for a couple of songs, Cusack tread that line thinly enough that they cross it. Luckily they redeem with some more hardhiting, I guess some would say primitive and less emotional offerings, and it's so much better when they do that.

Spy versus Spy have a lot to live up to as well. To say they've caused a buzz in the UK emo-core sort of scene would be an understatement. And the album is kinf of a perfect example of this, is a non perfect way. Like I said, there's a thin line that's trod. Luckily they pound through the set, the bassist and unlikely looking drummer seemingly about to explode in the heat of the Vic. One thing that puzzles me with this sort of music, is that given the "emo"tion and the empathy that seems to flow through the crowd towards each other, why does the band play with their backs to the crowd when they're not singing? I mean, surely you make the connection. Turning the back severs it, it kind of makes you feel like it's "only the banD" that can know and understand the real emotion, the real feeling and meaning going on here. Of course it could just be that the band feel uncomfortable looking out into people all the time, that this isn't music for or by "rock stars". And I could understand that, it just feels like a bit of a paradoxical performance to me. Union Station Still is the best song on the album, and so it is here, with the two guitarists trading vocal lines. The crowd lap it up, and it's kind of easy to see why they are revered, even with just the mini-album available. It's also easy to see how they could be called pretentious bollocks. The line is fine.

And As Friends Rust I know nothing about. I was here for Spy versus Spy. And I get the feeling that a lot of other people were to. Still, the ever reliable tactic of being American and saying "please move forward" seems to work once more. Amazing how it never works for a British accent. Anyway, AFR stick out a bit. They're a harder style of music that doesn't fully fit in tonight, and doesn't fully fit anyway. It's too hard for hardcore, not metal enough for metalcore. The vocalist semi-shouts things in a way that brings the name Black Flag and Rollins to mind. But they get no momentum going for the set. Each song is punctuated by at least a 30 second pause. It get's very frustrating. Before one new song the vocalist goes on about how the hardcore scene isn't about fighting each other, but is a place to go to get away from "those outside", but that it's often reduced to elitism, in fighting. It doesn't matter what music you listen to, what you eat, how you dress, what you drink, it shouldn't lead to in-fighting. You should feel comfortable at these shows and in this scene. There's a disappointing response to this, in comparison to the preaching to the converted that I've seen at some gigs and sXe shows. "Are you all feeling comfortable?" he asks. Well, at the lack of response there, no, to be honest I'm not. There's more songs, more pauses, and it ends with a 30 second blast about taking action and the burning down of apartment buildings being bought where they live because they are forcing up the cost of land and forcing people out. Direct action as a means, dunno. Same as this gig really. Comfort, feeling comfortable? Nope, not really. But that could've been due to the snivelling nose and cough and everything associated with the cold I've had.