earthtone9 / Cowpuncher / 3 Stages of Pain / Touch Sheffield Barfly September 23rd 2001

Strange place the Barfly in Sheffield. Or maybe it's not. Maybe it's that it's in the failed national music centre museum thing gizmo place (or whatever the hell it's called). Maybe it's that this is apparently the first gig they've done (the venue I mean). Maybe it's that the thing is supposed to start at some ungodly hour and finish at 9pm. Maybe it's that I'm still tired. Maybe it's that I'm a wanker (I would use the C word, but I don't like it). You just never know.

Anyway, things run a little late for whatever reasons. First band on are called Touch. As I enter to see them, it's like, well, America hits Sheffield. Musically and soundwise they are competant. No doubt about it. But I'm becoming an increasingly old antagonistic runt, and what I don't need is another British white boy wannabe Fred Durst americana rapper stylee geezer. I can see them pushing the right buttons for many people, hell, I almost have to stop my foot tapping (I've still not figured out whether this is an indication of me liking someting, or actually a nervous response to being surrounded by people.)

Next up are 3 Stages of Pain. Hardcore to the max. The vocals scream and serrate. And I watch realising how increasingly despondant and dislocated I've become with the whole concept of hardcore. How do you describe a good hardcore band? These days I have no idea, and it's that which means that most bands of this ilk just utterly fail to move me. I know I am shit.

Next are Cowpuncher. At least I feel as though I can say something about this band. They were dreadful. Boring and bland. There's that seemingly redundant DJ there (I'm sure that those that know the technicalities of DJ work would be able to say if he was good or not, but the art I'm afraid is lost on me, I don't hear the fruits of the labour in the mix and it seems redundant and pointless). But the main reason for the judgement is that the melodic vocals are fucking awful. I mean that in the "I cannot sing a note myself and cringe when I hear myself sing" kind of style. The vocals are the old waargh waargh agressive and then melodic mixture. You know the sort. The throat tearers are ok. The melodic are painful and cringeworthy. If I could've walked away after the first song I think I would have. But I can't. Others can and do.

Others walking away means that the place seems to have gone from "wow, kind of impressed" when I walked in to Touch, to "oh shit" as the changeover ensues for earthtone9. Mind you, it's not helped by the DJs playing Alien Ant Farm's cover not once but twice. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. There is no need for that song to exist. "Thankyou for sticking around. We were shitting ourselves comeing on" reckons Karl. Not once, but twice during their set. Fortunately most if not all the people seem to have returned for them, so it's all nicely acceptable. And although things are running late, it's still pretty early. Thank the lord that the curtains have been closed so that we can't look out on to the people of Sheffield wandering the streets this Sunday evening.

The set is the same as the previous evening on the roof. But indoors this time, so a tad warmer. So the Evil Crawling I kicks us off. The mix tonight is such that Karl is coming through extremely loud and clear. Dominating the mix, but he's able to rise to the occasion. He and Joe are using the in ear monitor type gizmo technogolical devices for I think the second time, and whether that actually does anything or not, or whether it's just a clear mix tonight, or whether it simply inspires confidence in the pair of them, it stands out. Especially in the likes of p.r.d. chaos and the new tracks amnesia and revelation where there's more of a reliance on the vocals and melodies and harmonies than in the likes of star damaged and withered. And the new songs go down well. From where I'm watching, I get a good viewpoint on everyone else in front, and the level of applause and passion seems to indicate that these new songs may be hitting a nerve. Though some remain unimpressed. The bar remains standing through the sterling efforts of a row of people who were obviously told that if they moved one iota or a muscle, the bar would collapse and there would be an impending alcohol shortage in Sheffield if they did so. After thanking the crowd for sticking around once more, the crowd are introduced to Alex "our new drummer, but not for much longer" and encouraged to buy some t-shirts. There then follows a mini conversation with one person pointing out they have a t-shirt, before Karl points out that it's not one of the ones that are being sold this evening, and therefore perhaps they should buy another.

Things seem a little looser musically tonight to me than last night. I don't play an instrument, so I can't explain why or what, it's just a gut instinct. But tonight binary 101 is utterly utterly awesome in one of those utterly awesome ways. Things eventually give way to just Dave and Alex jammming. The feedback seems to continue forever, causing twitches in my unprotected ears, Karl, for the first time that I think I can ever remember, actually watching the jam from just behind the drums. It may only be their third gig together and about their 7th time rehearse / playing, but it's jaw dropping. And then it's over, way in time for the people to catch last orders at some other bar. Even if it is a Sunday.

But most importantly. In the table football, the important score is Wales 3 2 England.