LIVE: Dinosaur Pile Up, Japanese Voyeurs and The Xcerts – The Garage, London 24/02/2011

Our guest reviewer, Kelii Compulsive of Obsessive Compulsive spills the beans on three young bands rocking the UK.

“I hit the capital for a night of discordant and, at the same time, hugely melodic alternative rock.

Not being here specifically for THE XCERTS but having heard their name mentioned a few times I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed and was mesmerized by their performance.  These young Scots make beautiful, earnest music which comes across as honest and heartfelt rather than twee and affected (take note our American cousins!).  For the most part they played a rather melancholy set, redolent of bands like The Pixies or fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub, but bursts of emotional, dissonant heaviness keep this from becoming dull.  A repetitive holler of “Hurt with me!” which goes on a little too long for comfort closes their 30 minutes with a twist, leaving the audience a little uneasy and ensuring the band’s memory is not easily forgotten.

JAPANESE VOYEURS take the stage next. Vocalist Romily’s, already characteristically fragile, vocals seem a little more strained than usual in the first few songs, perhaps hard touring is taking its toll, they have certainly been putting the hours in, but she keeps it together and by mid-set is snarling with a terrifying, unhinged and undoubtedly feminine wail of sorrow and venom while guitarist Johnny alternates between melodious, shoe-gaze style plucking and cacophonic fuzz-fuelled noise.  I really like this band, I think they play sensitive, intelligent, emotional music with a whole load of grit which comes across brilliantly live.  OK they are not note perfect, probably intentionally, and some of the lyrical and musical ideas are lifted directly from their 90’s alt vinyl collections (I’m thinking Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Veruca Salt, Jesus Lizard…) but they are doing something that stands out dramatically from the tedious herd of hair straightened, dial-a-tattooed, grunting and screaming poseurs that clog up the majority of the “alternative” press and radio nowadays and thank god they don’t seem in the least bit interested in being ‘Vikings’.  Romily gets extra points from me for being a cool as fuck front woman who doesn’t feel the urge to sing Eurovision style opera, grunt like a bloke, or dance like a lap-dancer, there’s far too much of that going on giving girls with guitars a bad name, Romily stomps hard on that image with a large hobnailed doc marten.

The crowd dissipates just slightly, quite surprisingly, for headliners DINOSAUR PILE UP (pictured above). I caught these guys a couple of years back, low down on the bill in Manchester and they blew my socks off, on the strength of this I recently got hold of their album ‘Growing Pains’ (which is great, go buy it!) and was thrilled to get a chance to see them headline in the capital.  As soon as they hit the stage the energy ricochets around the venue, lanky bassist Harry Johns bounces around the stage reminding me of some of the great 90s Brit-rock 4-stringers like Michael McKeegan, Nicky Wire etc… he is captivating and his energy infectious.  DPU wear their influences on their sleeve as much as the JVs before them, huge slabs of early Foo Fighters melody, Wildhearts-esque riffage and vocal harmonies straight out of the Weezer book of song writing.  This is a band whose hooks you will not stop humming for days after the show, in the current climate of dullards it’s awesome to hear some classic foot-tapping, brain invading, joyous, sing-along melody.  These guys aren’t breaking down the boundaries of musical creativity but they are doing something far more valuable in my humble opinion, writing good songs.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the bands on tonight’s bill, they all sounded very different but complimented each other well, it’s been a while since I could say that and I go to several gigs a week.  It’s great to see young British talent filling venues and kicking serious ass, I can’t wait to see where these three promising young bands go next.”