Trans Am / The Fucking Champs / Reynolds Nottingham Boat Club 27 October 2001

I don't know about other people, but I think I'm a walking contradiction half the time. Take tonight. There's seemingly plenty of gigs on. Subvert are playing the Angel. There's a couple of different bands playing Rock City (but that place is out of the question for me tonight), Kids Near Water are playing in Derby, and there's this. A band I've heard of (Trans Am) but nothing by. And 2 other bands I've never heard of. I have no idea what this is going to sound like. And that's why I wanted to go. Most of the other gigs, I know what I'm going to get. They're all decent bands, but it's predictable and I don't want that.

Yet the contradiction is that I'm reticent to listen to a lot of new music at the moment, my currently playlist is either old favourites, or safe new music by old favourites. The unknown doesn't interest me much in the rock genre, because even though it's unknown, it's fairly predicatable what half of it will sound like. Get my drift? I want something I don't know, I don't understand, that I'm at a loss to explain, that I can't compare. Something where all I can decide, is whether I like it or not. Which is why there was no other choice of which gig to go to when I learned of this gig taking place

First band I think are local - Reynolds. A 3 piece, a theme for the evening. They play instrumental post rock. It starts a bit ropey, but they soon settle in. There's the usual slow quiet build to a crescendo, and the guitarist faces the drummer for the duration of the set. But it's never dull, always interesting.

Next it's The Fucking Champs. Which is when things get weird. Um, yeah. Not the springest of chickens it looks like. A 3 piece band. Drummer. Guitarist. Guitarist with a guitar that looks like it has 9 strings. No bass. There are no vocals. Save for 1 song where the soundman gets up and does a 30 second stint. The 9 stringered slinger has long hair. They start. All the crowd move up. Now, this is a crowd that are probably into post rock kind of gubbins. It's not for me to judge, but, I'd hazard a guess that most of them if you asked them, wouldn't really admit to being fans of Iron Maiden. Or Judas Priest. Or Metallica. Or just good old heavy metal in general. Which is why it's somewhat surprising when the band start, and basically 30 minutes or so of 80s metal emerges. I mean chugga riffs. Guitar squeals from the 80s. Harmony guitars a plenty. Dual harmony dualling. It's a mixture of the aforementioned bands, but minus the vocals and the bass. It's full on metal goddamit. It's kind of funny. It's difficult to know whether it's paying homage, is a piss take or just 3 people playing the music they want to play irrespective of fashion. And the people are nodding their heads away to it. In a way it's hard to imagine. I mean, this band have a song called NWOBHM2 for christ sake. The 3 of them do a harmony guitar section. I'm in a state of shock. It was fun. It appeared to be appreciated. Maybe, just maybe there's truly a metal heart in everyone.

And finally we reach Trans Am. Another 3 piece band. Keyboards are lined up either side of the drummer, a member behind each. Things start with an electronica type track. The beauty of not knowing anything about this sort of music is I can be blissfully naieve as to what or who it sounds like, and just concern myself with whether I like it or not. And I do. Having said that it kind of sounds like early 80s sort of electronica, with a more modern techno thing going on. The keyboard player to the left as I look at the stage has a microphone set up for him with one of those big sponge muffler like things on it. If you grew up in the 70s, you'll remember them. It's yellow. He talks into it, and it's got a vocal effect like the robot from Battlestar Galactica. He uses it to address us all evening, adding a surreal sense to proceedings. As the first track ends, they pick up bass and guitar and move into a fantastic posthardcore instrumental type thing. Always full of structure and melody, the bass flicks between straight ahead driving pulsating notes to little loops. Always interesting, always compelling. There's more ideas going on here than in so much of the derivative music that's around today. The drummer often plays along to an additional drum loop, between them they make a massive sound. Constantly swapping, electronica and posthardcore rock. It's an awesome sound. I haven't been as impressed in a hell of a long time by this. Then there's some effects that sound like a Star Wards movie. They end with a song featuring the 2 frontmen both playing basses, before setting fire to the cymbals. Checking to see whether there's time for 1 more song, they proceed to "encore" with a 10 minute tour de force. I can't describe this. My ability with words is far too inadequate to begin to do this justice. Suffice to say, an investment will be made in some of their CDs shortly. Perhaps it's best left to what I overheard on the way out. "All 3 bands were fantastic" Says it all really.