Despite being relative newcomers to the game that is the live circuit, the instrumental two piece Common Spit (9) clearly know this scene, it’s inhabitants and how to appeal to them. However, it’s not surprising, given the circumstances. Composed of members of the south west promotional collective Blowout, Common Spit’s take on contemporary and idiosyncratic math rock is simultaneously angular and smooth; a polished yet serrated diamond of technical properties if you will.
Performing content from their debut Silly Names EP, the duo’s craft this eve entertains a calculated acidic jazz delivery with proven and modernised DIY math rock sensibilities. Almost magnetically, the way in which the group weave their work is viscous and fluid to the point where it appears borderline improvised, a fact that’s highlighted when a disconnected plug in appears a part of the set. Presented in a fashion that’s rivetingly raw and excitingly, almost erratically loose, Common Spit’s are utterly captivating and a testament to the renowned skill that lies within the underbelly of the DIY scene. Keep an eye on these and don’t be surprised if they show up at ArcTanGent next year.
Photo: Ollie Weaver
Whilst the local Cheltonians I, The Lion (7) don’t necessary play into the creative and technical dynamism associated with their predecessors or headlining peers, their volatile enthusiasm, energy and respective musical skill enables them to more than hold their own tonight. Borrowing many elements from the extended spectrum of alt-rock, the Cotswold trio unionise such aspects into a sound that’s resilient yet excitable to a child like degree. Despite this, the delivery is still skilled and direct. From the political march of the anthemic ‘Escape’ to the bladed edge of ‘Man Made Of Mice’, the group’s output is playfully aggressive without ever being holistic.
Whilst it may take I, The Lion a few tracks to catch their confidence, once they find their groove they tear trough their set with energised zeal. Whilst the majority of their output performed tonight may be conventional and conformative to a degree, there are times when the trio present experimental and juxtaposing structures, jumping into swirling ironised solos or tripping tempos without indication. Whilst it’s clear that the group are still finding their feet and sound, with the group rounding off their set to a borderline sold out room, it’s clear why this band are held in such high regard in this area.
Photo: Ollie Weaver
It’s approximately ten months since the release of their second EP Glow, and clearly, the East London alt-rockers Chapter And Verse (7) have used it as launch pad. Despite the collective only having a bundle of tracks to their namesake, the sudden rise this band have experienced is an evident indication for the lengthy and successful career that awaits them. Heights that they shall clearly reach judging from this performance. Despite showcasing hyperbolic attitudes that are certainly a contrast to this intimate venue, Chapter And Verse perform content from Glow with sharp assurance and charisma, with the soulful and expressive R&B vocals of frontman Josh Carter tangoing with suave heft.
The demonstration of their content tonight stands as being emotionally and romantically reminiscent of artists such as Fort Hope, Delaire The Lair, and to a certain extent Fort Minor, with their latest single ‘Bad Blood’ simultaneously inciting banging heads and swinging hips. Despite such clear comparisons, the impassioned saunter the band present separates them from their scene counterparts, with interweaved synthetic beats animating the backbone of tracks such as ‘Ink and ‘Eleven Hours In Real Time’. Whilst their aesthetic and persona may be a contrast to their tour mates, going from the appeal and zest this band present live, big things await Chapter And Verse.
Photo: Ollie Weaver
Despite having payed their rightful dues to the underground touring scene over the past decade, the South London trio Press To Meco (9) have returned to towns less travelled once more. However, the days of poorly attended shows are clearly a distant memory, with this Cotswold venue being packed to the timber rafters above for their respective set. Bristling with explosive energy and innovation, Press To Meco present another phenomenal set of fervent dynamism, with this evening ultimately proving to be a delightful retrospective of their career thus far. Yet, despite this set spanning their highly praised sophomore record and their criminally underrated debut Good Intent, it’s also a set that showcases what brilliant and prosperous accolades await them.
Tearing through content from Here’s To The Fatigue, the group flaunt their unrivalled skill of marring juxtaposing progressive sensualities and haplessly catchy melodies with devilish charm. As proven on the animated and bounce inflaming tracks such as the sugar rush of ‘If All Your Parts Don’t Make A Whole’ and the aggressive charge of ‘Itchy Fingers’, pop-prog sensibilities dance dangerously with lacerating riffs and contrastive angelic harmonies. It’s a unison that results in a jubilant celebration of life affirming conductivity, as proven with the Cheltenham crowd losing all inhibitions whilst revelling in the groups’s perfectly executed craft. Even with the majority gathered clearly being more educated in material from their aforementioned sophomoric record, the sugar coated musical barbed wire that is ‘Affinity’ causes a level of carnage that most acts playing this venue can only dream of inciting. However, it’s a performance of their latest single ‘Easy Life’ that stands as the set’s central jewel, with it’s darkened radiance showcasing the skill this band hold dear.
Photo: Ollie Weaver
Despite the brilliance of this dearly beloved venue, Cheltenham isn’t admittedly a town that’s synonymous with the nation’s touring circuit. It’s a town visited by those making their first dues to the touring circuit and by those returning from the peaks of their careers. Yet, despite this, tonight see’s The Frog And Fiddle playing host to a level of energy and joy that’s synonymous with major venues. Simultaneously deeply technical, haplessly catchy and borderline flawless live, Press To Meco are an absolute treasure.