Well, at 9pm the Cardiacs were still soundchecking. The offshoot from this was that eventually Tence had only about 15 to 20 minutes to play. Enough for only 3 songs. I'd never actually heard of the band before, and wasn't sure what to expect. I've heard a fair deal about the Cardiacs and their loyal following, and so when the three members of Tence walked on stage, well, my hopes weren't high. Without hearing any music, just going on a gut instinct, there was the feeling that there was going to be a mismatch here. And to an extent it was, in that I don't think many of the people here were really interested or bothered. They just wanted the Cardiacs. But the music? I have to say it was one of the best 15 - 20 minutes of music I've witnessed this year. I know I seem to say that a lot, whether you believe me is up to you. Tence were awesome. Starting off drenced in feedback and doing a noise style thing, the name 3D House of Beef sprang to mind. Not so much in the music, but in the interplay between the band members, seemingly feeding off each other. Then the riff started in, bass driven, kind of reminding me of a Sabbath sort of bass thing, but with more of a fuzz. The guitars joined in, and where you anticipate a total sludge, it's not. It's melodic but dischordant. I'm now thinking of Voivod and The God Machine, and the drums have me thinking of Tool. Lazy references one and all. They are just that, my references. This is twisted music, dischordant, a challenge. But for all that, incredibly good to listen to. The song lurches back and forth, going through these phases. The guitarist and vocalist, David I believe his name is kneels down ringing feedback from the guitar. But it's no ordinary feedback, it actually has a place in the song. There's a quiet murmour at the end. "More" shouts a lone voice, somewhat sarcastically you think. "There is" replies the bassist. Good. Next things change again, a lovely bass driven song, guitar atmospherics without descending to the level of predictability that all the Korntones bands are doing. This is superb. Once more the song is long and drawn out, going through passages, returning once more. There's mellow and melodic one moment, noise driven the next. But throughout it all there's a song. That's a difficult thing to achieve. Often I find it hard to remember about a band on first listen, let alone just fifteen minutes or so. For what my opinion is worth, this was truly great. Trust me, I hope you're going to read a lot more about them. They've got a web site, check it out. It's up to you, but if you trust or believe anything that I say, then Tence are a band you should look out for.
After that, well the Cardiacs could have a hard time. I've only been listening to them for about a year. I like them, but to call me an expert would be a lie. Their music is all over the place, which is nice, but because I've not totally immersed myself in it, I find some stuff too similar and repetative. I can't put names to songs just like that still. So I'm here because I really do want to see them and what they're about live. But I don't know what to expect. And I'm personally still kind of reeling from how good I thought Tence were.
So onstage they troop. The bassist and guitarist are decked out in dark green looking shirts, almost like a military Junta. The vocalist is in a suit. Nope, I can't remember their names. So? They stare out. It's weird. Like a comedy and yet serious. The music bursts in, and in a way, it just doesn't fit the images on screen. Which is what helps to make it great I think. They bounce up and down on their tip-toes in sync. So does the crowd. It's kind of like watching the last night of the proms. But the music is so bouncy it does that to you. Even my heads bouncing. And you know a great thing? There was someone in a Marilyn Manson shirt here as well. That really pleased me, a bit more open mindedness and willingness to listen to something different is what we could do with. But I feel a little uneasy. There's a feeling of an in-club here as well. Eventually the music breaks off and a tale is told. It totally breaks the ice for me. From then on, it's just absurd fun. I've been wondering a lot lately, and it's been coming up in interviews, whether bands can survive playing venues like this. Don't know how the Cardiacs are doing, but they've filled the place, they've been going a while. Makes you wonder doesn't it. You don't need hit after hit. The music and a following. It can happen. The vast majority of the stuff is so upbeat, the vocals keep making me think of Sparks. Great fun. Having said that, because I don't know their stuff enough, the 70 minutes feels just a bit too long. Though probably for the people here who really know the band, it's nothing like enough. But it was good, I'd definitely see them again, and would recommend them. Especially to try and open a few minds up. Oh, and definitely check out Tence if you see the name around.