Before the gig starts I find myself in the dressing room with both bands. Just let me warn you, if you're ever alone with Eathtone9, be afraid, be very afraid. They are one sick band :-) Fortunately the gig is about to start, and safety is within reach....
Unfounded have had a pretty rough deal the last couple of weeks at the hands of the press. Too derivative. Lacking imagination. That sort of thing basically. Which is a tad unfair. I mean, ok, they're not inspirational at the moment, but not a lot is. And not a lot of what gets creamed over in the press is inspirational at the moment. But them's the breaks you get being British. Besides, it must be pretty hard after driving for 5 hours to get to a place to be confronted by a line of tables and chairs at which everyone sits or stands behind. Yes, including me. It's like the Maginot line. Though shalt not cross. Undeterred they go through a 6 song set. The guitars feel a little too far back in the mix to get the full effect, but for lovers of high speed thrash style shenanigans, there's something to take a look at here. There's also something to see in the drum setup. Using a strange looking kit, there are no bass drums. I guess its triggered into pads. But it's fun, cos as those high speed double bass runs kick in during the likes of Cold, Dry and Four, you can see the drummers little legs pelting away for all they're worth. As on record, I prefer it when they just slow down a little, open out the melody, and start developing their own thing. They're not great yet, but they're not as bad as the press are making out. Actually, maybe it's not the bands that are shite, maybe it's the press and audiences off which they have to feed.
The Maginot line gets crossed though as Earthtone9 take the stage. No, not by me. By people braver than me. But I have this thing about idiots at the moment, and luckily someone is here to continue the thread. Every time I've seen them play thus far, they open up with some feedback. And so, as the first strains emerge from the speakers, I figure it's time for the earplugs (cos trust me, it's the feedback that will kill you if you suffer tinitus). But anyway, it starts up. And so DJ plays Rage Against The Bloody Machine. And then Zakk Wylde. Nice one mate. Band - on stage. You reckon there's any link between those two? Just planting a thought for you. The band sit down.
Eventually as the music fades, they rise. Feedback emerges and then we're straight into the powerhouse of Serpentine Placement from the new album. And it's absolutely stunning. The entire next forty minutes are. Original guitarist Jo is back in the ranks, and also providing back up vocals, proving that there is someone other than Karl who actually knows some of the words. Well, unless he's making them up as he goes along like the rest of us.
The set draws heavily from the new album, as well it should. Playing so much new material is a risk normally, but this is so powerful it's untrue. i negula eye is up, with that weird sounding halfway through being a pick scrape from Oz, but even that sounds unconventional put up against everyone else that does so. Simon is sinking lower and lower into the ground behind those drums. It can only be a matter of time before he's under the stage and reaching up to hit them. It's a strange sight, but that sums up the band, and together with Graeme, who seems to be attacking the bass more and more each gig, they make a fine rhythm section holding everything together. Sand remains from the debut, and its testament that as the opening strains of Withered emerge from the speakers, more people run to join the brave soles at the front. They know if from having been on the magazine CDs, and as great a song as it is, it's still not their finest moment. Though it would be for most other bands.
Towards the end, there's a signal. There's 5 minutes left. There's a quick conversation amongst the band. Zechariah Rush is dropped due to lack of time, and Simon Says closes things. In my album review I said it somewhat paled against the rest of the material. Live I might have to rethink that judgement. It ends in feedback, the band leave one by one walking through the crowd. Each and every one of them is gulping in the air. Our idiot returns. "Give it up for Earthtone9 if you want them to come back .... More than that ..... Apparently you're not good enough so they're not coming back.....". Of course by now they're probably half way across the cavernous upstairs venue on their way to the dressing room. They don't know about this. So why, Mr I, did you delay the start of the set and curtail the end of it if they were to be allowed more time. They drop 2 songs from the set. Excellent. The world is full of idiots. (Walks away whisting "hang the dj hang the dj....")