Beat Generator – Dundee
Dundee has some great history when it comes to independent venues and live music. Dundee has also had some very cool record shops that nurtured the taste for independent music acts. Groucho’s is one of the most highly regarded shops but there have been many more through the years i.e. Bruce’s, Chalmers and Joy, I&N and Rockpile. Today, apart from the afore mentioned Groucho’s, there’s a new kid on the block in the form of Assai Records. They have injected a new wave of vinyl buyers into Dundee and having recently moved into the town centre from its Broughty Ferry beginnings, Assai Recordshave been involved in a growing number of artist album launches. Twin Atlantichad chosen Dundee as one of the locations to launch their new album “Power”and it proved to be an incredible start to the Independent Venue Musicweek.
Beat Generatorhave been involved with Independent Venue Weekfor many years and it provided a great intimate atmosphere for the band. This was not a normal tour for Twin Atlanticby any means as they admitted, they would never normally do more than three consecutive dates, but they had lined up a 12-day tour without any days off, so it was a challenge. The stage was crammed with the bands gear and the barrier was bursting as the band took the stage. The venue was sold out as the attraction of seeing the seminal Scottish band up close and personal was too great an opportunity to miss. No nonsense, no frills, just the band and their new album. The album “Power”was released just a few days prior to Independent Venue Weekbut already, the eager crowd seemed to be fully up to speed with the songs and lyrics. Sam Mctrustywas in full flow right from the beginning of the show and his enthusiasm spilled over into the crowd.
Although the new album seemed to have polarised the opinions of the critics, the band made the most of the intimate setting to engage with the fans in the room. The heavy presence of synthesised music in the new album brought with it a sense of rapture as the expression of the faces listening was that of adoration. Seeing the band up close and personal instead of 50yds away in a field, endeared the music and the band to the sold-out crowd. For 40 fabulous minutes, the crowd sang along and raised their arms in unison as the band played through the album. It was a powerful start with “Oh Euphoria”and “Barcelona” kicking off the proceedings. It is a tight stage at the best of times but somehow the band managed to shoehorn not only their expansive range of gear, but there’s an engineer on-stage to mix their sound. The tempo increased with “Novocaine”before there was an odd electronic interruption of a 40 second album filler. The new musical direction the band have taken was best served by the songs “Ultraviolent Truth”and “Messiah”as there were overtones of Depeche Mode. The final song of the evening said it all, “I want you to praise me, save me, show me no mercy”,there was nothing but praise for the band as they left the stage leaving the crowd wanting more. No encores but Dundee won’t have to wait long for the full Twin Atlanticexperience as they will return in March.
VF Lambda / Franky’s Evil Party / Strange Bones
The second gig of the week for Independent Venue Weekat Beat Generatorsaw three very different bands have one common similarity, the singers all removed their shirts during their performances to reveal their tattooed torsos. If the music was not enough to entertain the masses, then the singers in each band certainly captured their attention.
Local favourites VF Lambdahave been working on the premise that they mix up their set-list each time they play. They have a growing catalogue of songs that desperately need recorded so they can share them with their growing fan base. The band are an eclectic bunch and their musical influences just as varied. Stoner rock/grunge/rock ‘n’ roll might best describe them, and they have a 70’s vibe that makes you feel at ease when they play. They challenge you and make you sit up and pay attention. The storybook format of their lyrics was engaging and the subjects wildly diverse. Their signature tune “Natasha”settled the performance and it flourished from there on. The amusingly titled “Poppin Wheelies”was followed by “Coffee”.A new song to me“The sign said You Are Here… and I was” kept the intrigue going beforethe final song “Big Tam”rounded off a memorable performance.
Hailing from Dumfries in the South West Coast of Scotland,Franky’s Evil Partyare no ordinary run of the mill band! Drums/Bass/Guitar/Synth and Saxaphone are all well established instruments but rarely played with such disdain and possess such primal venom. Controlled yet chaotic rage pulsed throughout the music and the calamitous energy was under pinned with the hard-hitting drums and samples. There was a chronic unease in the audience as they weren’t sure what to expect but like all good horror films, you know you should probably run but you’re drawn to the danger. Like Iggy Popand early Nick Caveperformances, the singer looked disconnected, de-void of emotion, almost zombie like at times but intrusively immersed in his own world, pacing up and down the tight stage, like a prisoner in solitary or a captive animal trapped in a zoo. A flavour of early Brithday Partyin the first song “Yabba” before we got some full on rhythmic beats not unlikeJah Wobble eraPiL and a hint of The Stone Roses thrown in as“Blonde” was the second song to be played. The third song “Big Family”started off with some melodic picked guitar before a full on onslaught of hard hitting drums and chaotic guitar kicked in. It was a sprawling multi-faceted song which again, harked back to Nick Cave’s Birthday Party. We were treated to some psycho“Disco” next as the pumping bass and straight drum rhythm was overlayed by edgy/angular guitar. The vocal was harsh and heavily affected but the psychotic rhythm was addictive. “Paradise”was a crushing tune with yet more screaming and heavy drumming underpinned by deep analogue bass from the synth. There was a swap of instruments next as the drummer leapt out from behind his kit to play saxophone and the guitarist jumped on the kit. The sax had a wonderfully eerie effect via delay and again, the vocals were harsh and demanding. The synths were heavy but the sax was uplifting. The aptly named “Morpher”showed there’s more to this band than meets the eye as it subtly morphed into the final song “I Hate Men”which reminded me of The Pop Group. A demanding performance from a must see band.
No stranger to Dundee’s Beat Generator, Strange Bonesgot a riotous welcome from the eager crowd as VF Lambdaand Frank’s Evil Partyhad both done their best to kick start the evening. It didn’t take Bobby Benthamlong to breach the barrier into the crowd and be part of the mosh. The intensity of the earlier performances was the perfect platform to launch the frantic four-piece from Manchester. The rhythmic assault of The Prodigy/ Qemistsmeets the energy of Frank Carterpossibly best describes Strange Bones, but they have created their own hard-hitting fusion of electro/punk rock. “Napalm Uber Alles”is a killer track and what a way to start their set. Boom! The band were off the scale. It was straight into “Here Come the Wolves” as the intensity continued and the mosh pit was frenzied. Before anyone had time to take a breath, “We The Rats”had the crowd bouncing and in full voice at the chorus. Next up was a new tune “Underdogs” as Bobby thanked the crowd for turning up. It is an absolute banging tune. The tempo dropped slightly for “Snakepit” as the air raid sirens wailed at the beginning of the song before the screaming guitars kicked in. It was time for some full-on crowd participation as “S.O.I.A”had everyone chanting along. The frenzy continued as “Energy”was up next. There was no Stormzyin the house but the band created their own storm. The penultimate song“Vicious” was brutal and lead straight into the old favourite “God Save the Teen”,which saw Bob leap the barrier and sit the entire audience down on the floor before he demanded they smash into him as the chorus kicked in. There was nothing left to give, the band had literally expended blood, sweat and tears into their performance.
Vic Galloway (DJ) / Magnum Haus / Walt Disco
Radio Scotland DJ Vic Gallowaytook the stage to introduce the bands and highlight what Independent Venue Weekis all about. He is a champion of unsigned bands in Scotland and has had both bands in for a radio session on his show. The third night of gigs at Beat Generatordemonstrated the diversity of music that plays in venues up and down the country. Without independent venues and bands will to travel the width and breadth of the country, the life blood of innovation would suffer. The bands were almost polar opposites from the evening before where Strange Bonesliterally took the roof off, it was a more polished and relaxed approach from Magnum Haus. The Alt-R’n’B local band certainly had no intention of removing their shirts or leaping the barriers to mosh with the crowd but they had their own mandate. The band are no strangers to lively gigs and critical acclaim as they were formed by former members of Model Aeroplanes who had some success four years ago, ultimately winning awards and touring the UK extensively. Model Aeroplanes are no more though and the current members of Magnum Haus have moved on to a new vibe and are heavily influenced by R & B, Soul, Hip Hop and Jazz. It was a very tight performance which oozed class. Considering Dundee has produced such great artists as Average White Band, The Associatesand Danny Wilson, the band had a strong desire to match their peers. There’s almost a nod to Jamiroquaiin some of the material and it’s “Shuga”that draws the loudest cheer of the night as it reverberated through the crowd. There was a laid back confident vibe throughout out the set and the crowd gave the band a great cheer when they finished. Magnum Hauswon over a few hearts and minds with their performance.
The final band of the three night bonanza for Independent Venue Weekand it was well worth waiting for. Walt Discofrom Glasgow have increased their band numbers to six and they filled the stage, there was barely room for the boys to move but somehow they managed. Walt Discohad just done a session for Vic Gallowayand he introduced them onto the stage. As Vic shouted “Young, Hard and Handsome”the band appeared and it is hard to challenge that statement! Looking like a young Ultravox from the John Foxxera, the band are a throw-back to the halcyon days of late 70’s early 80’s electronic pop. James Potter (Vocals) has more than a passing resemblance to Foxx and Billy Mackenzie. In fact, when he started to sing live, I am sure I was not alone in wondering what it must’ve been like listening Dundee’s famous son live. As the goose bumps and hair rose on the back of my neck, the first song “Hey Boy”really grabbed the crowd and there was an instant rapport with the audience. James engaged eye to eye with the eager audience on the barrier and loomed large over them as he reached over their heads like he was acting out a Shakespearian play. There’s more to the band than just the vocalist though. Visually, there’s a lot going on as the bass player and guitarists were all very active. The edgy powerful song proves the band have substance over style and they have a lot of style! The falsetto vocals are contrasted by the hard hitting delivery of the rest of the band. The next song “Strange to Know” continues in the same vain and as James announced “Dancing Shoes”, there’s a muttering from the crowd “I think I like this one”which is repeated by James and created some hilarity. Dancing Shoes was a 7” single released by the band last year. And certainly enjoyed by the audience. Next up is a song David Bowiewould have been proud of as the slick edgy guitar riffs are Reeves Gabrellike. “What You Want” demonstrates the band are destined for greater things. As the applause dies down, James announces a brand new song and it’s slots into the set nicely. “Sling” is very reminiscent of mid 80’s Cureand the visuals of Lewis on guitar with his long hair is not unlikePorl Thompson. Next up is one of the songs from Vic Galloways radio session, “Cut Your Hair” has some great keyboard work not unlike early Simple Minds but My favourite tune of the night was the B side of the Dancing Shoes single, “Pop Sensibilities”.The edgy bass and drums really drove the song and the guitars cut through.
Onto the penultimate song “Past Tense”and more Bowie influence crossed with Ryuichi Sakamotoas the keys start the song like an excerpt from Merry Xmas Mr Lawrence.The final song of the evening is possibly the most adventurous song of the night.“Velvet Bed” brings someBanshees into the mix as the bass and guitars thrash through most of the song. As the guitars are left feeding back, the band take their leave. No encore and it’s was a shame as the crowd gave a great account of themselves but as they say in show business, always leave your audience wanting more.
One Venue, three nights and six bands. All original material, all as deserving as each other and proof that the life blood of music is being independent. Make sure you check out each and every band in this article and get along to your local venue soon and check out the bands on offer. It doesn’t matter if you have not heard them before, I had only seen one of the bands once before but can tell you I will make the effort to see each one again.