Venue: The Sugarmill
Independent Venue Week managed their repertoire of artists well the other night (29/01/13) as various local, and further afield artists performed to a near-full audience at The Sugarmill in Stoke-on-Trent. It was never about catching a glimpse of your favourite local artist - though some audience members did retreat after just one hour. The artists lucky enough to take the stage at The Sugarmill were well prepared and catered to their respective fanbase, while remembering the music on offer varied slightly from a one-genre dimension. It was a night of messages and influence from one artist to another, from artist to audience, and audience to artist - support your local music venues, support your local music.
Delamere prepared for their set with a fierce soundcheck, which sounded absolutely fantastic from the side balcony. You could tell just from the soundcheck what Delamere are all about, and where they want to take their sound. The quartet played material from their past releases as a younger, less technical outfit, to their present more innovative sound orchestrated with their new single through Scruff of The Neck Records. Their set ranged from a few older, less rhythmic recordings, to an array of math rock/pop songs influenced by the identity of indie rock's past.
Songs like "Do You Want Me?" and "Heart" set the tone of their performance, but it was "Colour Me In" which seemed to have the greatest effect on the IVW goers. It showed that Delamere warrants respect from fellow artists and critics alike, for their ability to spot the potential not just lyrically, but what’s written in the songs textures. For instance, it's all well and good having a talented guitarist, but it means jack squat as 1/4 of a band if your creative partners can't match it. Delamere control their sound well and utilise skills both with guitar effects and percussion - because they're multi-instrumentalists beneath the cover of their character.
The only criticism towards Delamere on the night involves their lack of audience participation. Some artists find it difficult to 'talk' or just communicate with an audience, and I personally think Delamere could have done with a few plugs, and perhaps a little bit more encouragement for the night ahead. That being said, Delamere were thankful for the support audience members were showing, as we all know how difficult it can be to be the opening act at a small venue. Besides, Delamere's music and ideology does in fact ride on an emotional connection, rather than a physical 'let’s go mental' / 'hands in the air' aesthetic.
Moral Panics managed to clear the room after their set was over, surprised? I don't think anyone expected anything less. They clearly know how to attract an audience, how to participate, and even cater to that audience on a personal level. Their friendships with audience members helped, but it was their quick wit and indie rock band charm that made Moral Panics an instant crowd pleaser.
Their live set ranged from the simplicity of basic barre chords, to the technical skill and complexity of the lead guitar. They played positively throughout, though did lack depth when it came to varying from the norm. On occasion it seemed as if they suffer from multiple personality disorder, because they were criss-crossing from math rock to indie rock. It never really sounds like a defining sound, or a complete mix of the both - they had one hand under the cold water and one under the warm.
Moral Panics do have the potential to widen their audience massively, and Independent Venue Week is a great testimonial to local artists like Moral Panics, who want to achieve something far greater than the Staffordshire circuit. Along with Delamere, Moral Panics use the bottom end of a lead guitar to play math rock styled music, while keeping melodies and rhythms suited for rock lovers - Foals esque, but with less to bring to the table. Moral Panics have Foals written on their influences, and you don't need to ask them if this statement is true. But that's not so bad, the early Foals recordings relied heavily on unusual time signatures and structures not heard so popularly in the UK before. The excitement and straight up difference of math rock over other genres is its ability for limitless creations - backed by decent song-writers, and you're pretty much owning your niche.