Earthtone9 / Cynical Smile

Rugeley Red Rose

February 26 1999

Well, I'm in the middle of one of those world tours of the UK again. Hard to stay awake sometimes. Even harder to remain not pissed off by imbeciles. More later ...

Cynical Smile take to the stage. Last time I saw them, a couple of weeks back in Nottingham, I was worried for them. It seems like they've stood still for the last year, just seemingly been inactive, though I'm sure that's not the case. It was eased a little tonight. They're playing a bunch of new material like Pro-Tection from the current 17 track single as well as some old favourites such as The Circle. The hip hop styled track that they performed with DJ Stinky last time is still there, a hint of the future. And at least they got the Rugely Rock in full motion. What's that I hear you ask? Well, it's where the people at the front, grab hold of the barrier, and rock back and forth with it and use it as a support to pogo. A good band who just need to get that momentum going again. And for lazy journalists to stop calling them RATM clones.

Ah, Rugely. Decent venue. It's a small theatre, which means you've got a nice little box in which the gig occurs. And the stage is pretty big as these things go. Compare it to say the Vic in Derby, where it's a struggle to get everyone in a band on the stage, this is luxury. And the dressing rooms are pretty smart. Good stuff. It's also populated by so many youngsters its scary. Talk about feeling old. There's kids keeled over on drink everywhere. And, most dumbly, stupidly, inexcusably of all, half of them are sat on the floor in the bar area as the bands play. Why? Yeah, I know, "they're young Dave and impressionable. They need to be seen with their friends. It's a community thing." Maybe, but it's not about music then. There are two bands busting a gut onstage the width of a wall away. The people have already paid the money required to see them. And instead they choose to sing "Beautiful People" or "7 Words" very badly to their friends. The same songs that they have at home. Whatever. But understand this, I've made the decision. If you're sitting against the wall, lining both sides of the corridor, feet spread so that people have to tip toe over you, I ain't. I'll walk over your feet and legs. And if you don't like it, don't fucking sit there. Get in and watch the bands. Age is no excuse for stupidity.

Aah, that's better. See, I'd never be able to be in One Minute Silence with their agenda to always be nice and accessible to kids. I'd want to shoot the little fuckers instead.

Anyway, that's getting us away from the main reason that I was here, and so are you if you're reading this. Earthtone 9. Under most circumstances, with such a fine debut album out, deciding to play a majority of the set of new material would be risky. But it's ok as so many of the kids are outside sat on the floor shaking their heads cos an American band is being played. So new material they do. I don't know the titles, I've seen the titles, and it still wouldn't help. Obvious choruses is not their forte. Instead, it's an incredible wave of sound. With the variations that a lot of the bands being played outside at the moment would kill for. That over used word groove is in there, coupled with melody and aggression. The band don't move much onstage, with the exception of vocalist Karl, who it appears is becoming more animated all the time, but during one of the new tracks, it struck me. The energy that was coming from the music and the stage was like Slayer. They don't move much, but watch them and it's just pure energy. Same here. No similarity in the music, so don't make that mistake, but just sheer energy. And that comes from a band who are truly into what they're doing.

During Withered, there's a moment that shows this. Karl is crouched down, singing "withered". He twists his head away from the mike, and you can hear the intake of breath that's needed, such is the the power of the delivery. 35 minutes, and one mistake from Simon the drummer later and it's all over.

The new album is recorded, and is due to be unleashed in the coming months. If the new material aired tonight is anything to go by, then its probably going to surpass the debut. Eventually, with a bit of luck, the paying public will take notice, and the aversion to supporting UK bands will at least be sidestepped for a while. Which would mean the band playing this place to people dying to get in here and "get down" with the band. And then when asked what they did when Earthtone9 first played here, how many will say "I sat in the corridor waiting for Dave to walk over me." Not many methinks.