4th September 2021
The Wave Before The Kick In The Chest Festival 2021 with Howard James Kenny, Jo Quail, Alpha Male Teaparty, Pijn, A.A Williams, Svalbard, Gallops and Conjurer
Saturday the 4th September 2021 was the day that Leeds beckoned me! Why was Leeds extending its bony hand, wiggling its finger at me and saying: “Coooommmmme!!!!”? It was the day JO QUAIL was to play at the Brudenell Social Club. So, after doing some research on the bands playing before and after Jo I thought “Why not, let’s go to Leeds!”
An 8am coach ride up north was due to end at midday, so I could then get to the venue for the first band SANG FROID. Alas, they had pulled out because of that Covid so my urgency at getting to the venue waned somewhat. A leisurely walk through the city centre, stopping for coffee and to snap the sites occupied me until I finally arrived at the venue just after 3pm. The venue itself is a 20/30 minute walk north west from the city centre and took me past the Corn Exchange, Leeds Town Hall and the University campus all the way up to Hyde Park and on to the venue. If you don’t like walking then there’s N° 56 bus back into the city centre. Anyway, onto the music…
As I stated, I arrived just after 3pm to see the set of another artist that had stepped in to take the place of CLT DRP would also dropped out. JO QUAIL was due onstage at 4pm so all the bands that played either side of her were perceived by me to be her support, with her being like the centre of a fan and all the other acts being the ribs radiating out. She was the centre but not more important than everything else. Anyway, HOWARD JAMES KENNY is described as a “One man SIGUR ROS”, sitting there with a couple of guitars, drums, various effects and a looping station. There were some interesting snippets to be had listening to his output but I remember thinking to myself that “right now I could do with the musical equivalent of a strong coffee to perk me up”.
JO QUAIL was up next to entertain us with a 45 minute set that included the delights of ‘Gold’, ‘Forge’, ‘South West Night’ and ‘Mandrel Cantus’. I do recall Jo stating at one point that she had not practiced ‘South West Night’ and she asked the audience to bear with her. They did, with good humour and the piece was played without a hitch.
Apart from JO QUAIL and SVALBARD, the other artists were new to me. I did some rudimentary research on them before I went to the venue but for the most part I wanted to experience them unsullied and in the raw and make my mind up in the moment. PIJN are Stoner Doom / Post Metal with atmosphere and long build ups. Like slowly climbing a hill to conserve energy and then the prolonged release of said energy once at the summit. Alpha Male Tea Party was fluid Groove Rock, Math Rock, Alternative Progressive, call it what you will. There’s something of a bouncy but methodical attitude to it.
AA WILLIAMS sounds like a Juliette Lewis / Skin / PJ Harvey hybrid with a world weary sleepy delivery. There was something southern gothic about them. I liked what I heard and further exploration is due. Svalbard was like a shot in the arm with broken glass and a punch in the kidneys! A vocal that induces auditory canal bleeding but with interesting slivers of melody that pierce through to create, erm, interesting textures.
The final band of the night for me was GALLOPS who were a change of vibe and pace. Techno Dance Electronica with Rock fusions. This reminds me of the squat parties I used to go to in Old Street, London in the early 1990s. A dark environment suffused with the smell of alcohol, sweat and leather and the grinding repetitive beats blaring out and strobes of lights and projected images overload the senses. Head up, eyes opening and closing, unfettered dancing, who cares...
CONJURER I did not see, I was tired, very tired and my camera batteries had given up the ghost. I had to leave anyway to catch a coach to London, the sounds of CONJURER bellowing from the other stage as I left the building! In summary, a good day of music that was tightly and efficiently choreographed around two stages with absolutely minimal fuss. To while away the short interludes one had the pleasure of 2 bars and an outdoor seating area, and if you were peckish and had a penchant for pie there were plenty of tasty pies on offer for your culinary delectation. The Brudenell Social Club is a great venue, I like it! And it sells Alcohol Free beer too!