The Tooth and Claw, Inverness
Saturday, April 28
For independent bands looking to make a name for themselves, there’s no better way to promote themselves than by taking their music to new places.
The Off Axis showcases offer hungry artists their chance in the spotlight – connecting artists across the country to allow them to network and put together gigs with new talents from outside the usual “scene”.
All very worthy and noble on paper – but how does that work in reality? This night marked Inverness’s first showcase, offering a chance for music-lovers to see what it was all about.
With three very different bands from across Scotland descending on the Tooth and Claw – Forres powerpop stalwarts Be Like Pablo, the rock fury of Bathgate two-piece PYRO and Glasgow’s icy new-wave prospect 100 Fables – this inaugural gig was eclectic to say the least.
Polished to a metallic sheen, openers 100 Fables brought a steely cool to the early doors crowd, their shimmering pop mixing well with the rock ‘n’ roll swagger of frontwooman Lyndsey Liora – her voice leaping between a Grimes-esque sickening sweetness and a Karen O style yelp.
PYRO followed, serving up raw and ready rock howls with more than a hint of Royal Blood – such is the curse of a two piece, I suppose. There’s a lot of promise here, particularly in their quieter moments, and the arpeggiated guitars that make up so many of their verses. I feel though that more needs to be done to compensate for the lack of bass in their set up – for my ears, their ostensibly-crunching breakdowns sounded slightly too hollow.
Be Like Pablo’s experience and way around a hook shines through in their headline slot. Over the years, they’ve managed to perfect their self-consciously geeky brand of powerpop – They Might Be Giants by way of Weezer and the Beach Boys.
I must admit here to a long and deeply-held enmity for that particular style of music, but it was easy to look past that to appreciate a band doing what they do well. And for music tastes less angry bitter than my own, there was a lot to enjoy when it comes to their summery melodies and pitch perfect harmonies.
It’s almost – almost – a metaphor for the showcase. For all of the grousing about the artists, a bill this eclectic was never going to please everybody during every moment of the gig.
Yet to have these disparate elements come together for one bill, offering the bands a chance to play outside their comfort zones to new crowds, can only be applauded – it will be fascinating to see who Off Axis brings to Inverness next.
What did you think? Comment below or tweet Kyle: @spp_kwalker