Ummmmm, and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sod it, finally decided at around midday that I would go, so it's a quick drive to Stanmore, tube into London and walk in to the place to be greeted by the sight of half of bloody Nottingham. There's all of Dai Lo (which does mean I'm lucky enough to get a copy of the new single - on sale on the DFD tour, check it out), who are in town as they're support to Dog Fashion Disco on their current tour (which tonight of course is calling in at Evo 4), there's a Blackrock (doing sound for Dai Lo) a 3rd Stone (doing roadie duties for et9) and various other friends and management like people for Dai Lo who are doing merch for Evo4. Confused? Oh, and all the members of et9 wandering around, some of whom are trying to make themselves look shifty in their headgear. Though there is a reason.
Never been in the MeanFiddler before, it's quite nice. Reminds of a number of other places, but this one has the pleasantly surprising attribute that there's actually a crowd gathered for the opening band. Vacant Stare, who to be honest, I don't really see eye to eye with on a musical level, and don't know the names of any of their songs. The opening track is their best, I remember it from other times I've seen them. They get the pit moving, they've got some newer material during which to these earplugged ears it sounds a little like the vocalist is moving more towards a Patton / Boyd style, but it just doesn't really work for me. It's here, it's now. People love it, the final track has people singing along like they know it and I've missed out (which I think is a pretty accurate description of things these days), but they don't quite speak to me yet.
Miocene are a late replacement for Nonpoint, a point they try to prove by claiming in bad mock American accents "we're Nonpoint". Miocene are another band where it's not totally clicked with me yet. My initially sticking point was that the first thing I heard of them sounded very Tool like - too Tool like. Now though, they sound to rap / nu-metal for my liking. I know, there's no pleasing some people. Tonight after starting a new song "this is a more challenging song for those that want to be challenged, maybe we'll lose half of you" (or words to that effect), they hit technical difficulties, the guitar is dead and the set unfortunately for them loses momentum. They joke their way through the situation and it's unfortunate for it too happen, but it means that this for me still isn't really hitting home, because it's not the right way to judge them.
I'm not sure how many exactly this place holds. 1000 is a figure I've heard bandied about. I don't think there's that many here, it looks full, though at the risk of being an ignorantly arrogant git (hey, it's not stopped me before), there's a lot of people hanging around upstairs that could make it look even more packed downstairs. It's nice to finally see et9 headline to a reasonable sized place with a reasonable turnout. But we're getting ahead of ourselves aren't we? Oh yes we are. First there's Dog Fashion Disco to deal with.
Three bankers (one with obligatory silly haircut), a drummer, and Mike Patton singing dressed as Elvis. Well that's how it looked to me. I must admit I've not listened to the album enough to be able to remember exactly which tracks they played off it, but suffice to say, they played some tracks off their album. I was kind of a little bit disappointed with them in all honesty. Oh the music's fine, lots of Bungle influence going on there, spazzing all over the place musically, though it seemed more concentrated on the heavier side of things (understandable, but a bit of a shame at the same time), but disappointed because despite the Elvisathon on stage, I found myself drawn more towards the video being projected behind them. In some bands that's good, that's kind of how I want to be immersed by the band, here it felt like I wanted the band to grab me, not the visuals. They seem to go down well, during the final track, one guy makes it to the stage and performs a dive. He's a big fellow, and the people in the line of fire obviously decide he's bigger than they want, as they part and he plummets. He walks away from it, but it's one of those moments when you see it and gasp inwardly and go "that's gonna hurt". Anyway, DFD, yeah, I really must listen to the album a bit more, ideally before I see them again on Tuesday with Dai Lo.
I suppose I had to go in the end really. The chance to see them do their biggest headline gig to date, and the hope of finally seeing et9 headline in front of a crowd worthy of the description of being a crowd. The lights drop and the familiar projection starts rolling. And then i nagual eye is up and we're off and running. The headgear for Karl and Si is removed to reveal, er, well, Karl is tonight sporting a strange concept of beard on bonce. Basically he's removed all his hair save a strip which joins his beard on either side of the face. So you've basically got a circle of hair. Look, you're gonna see the pictures anyway, because it's a cheap gimmick which we all know the press will love and fewature, completely missing the initial point in the first place. Si is wearing a Beckham gone slightly sidewards. Dave, Joe and Owen retain a semblance of normality. Star Damage is next, giving way to obvious crowd pleaser Withered, though in my opinion it's really time to put that one to bed. "There endeth the metal sermon for tonight" asserts Karl, indicating as it is, that the heavier portion of the set is over, and for the rest we get to hear the better songs.
p.r.d is first, it at least gives people the chance to bounce and mosh during the chorus, then ni9e allows the tuning to enter into Yellow Fever. The vocals are a bit off at the start of it, but towards the end both Karl and Joe seem to be finding their feet. "Thank you for your underwhelming response. As a gesture, we're going to play a new song which will be just as familiar" and it's time for Amnesia if I remember correctly (oooh the wit, I know I know, I wonder if it'll ever start as well!). It's the first time I've heard it, and it's always hard to be really honest on first listen. It's very very melodic, big chorus and Karl gets to "really" sing. It's kind of fitting that for most people the first time they'll have heard it will have been at an "evolution" gig, because it fits in. It's the next step in earthtone9 evolving. I'm not sure the heavy bit that came just over half way through is necessary, seems a bit obvious. But at the end Karl says "that's where we're off, so we'll probably say goodbye to half of you". Or words to that effect. Yet it receives a fair reception, which may indicate that people will follow them down the road they choose to walk. It's kind of a brave move, but in my opinion the right one. The difference in song quality between their more melodic excursions and the heavier by numbers songs is vast. "6 down, 3 to go" are the next fateful words, that unleash Tat Twam. I'll say no more. You probably already now my opinion on this song. Then, "for the internet freaks" it's binary 101. Receiving a cheer as it commences, it twists it's way as ever, finishing with the band drawing out their noise jam, before Si throws his sticks and wanders off stage. "We've got one more song" Karl reminds him. It's an easy mistake, Binary is the normal set closer, and Si's a drummer, and tradition says something about drummers, "this is professionalism. Don't cheer, we fucked up". Si returns and approx. Although in a way Si is right, because binary really should be the set closer, it doesn't quite feel right playing anything after that. Still purified finishes off a set that's clocked in near the hour mark.
It was good to see them play to a crowd approaching the size which I think they should be playing to. Personally, it didn't quite connect for me as much as I'd hoped, I've seen them better, but tonight wasn't really about the individual, but the bands evolution. On to the next step...
And I hope you all picked up your free Organ.