Say Anything + Twin Atlantic + The Outline @ Birmingham Barfly – 9th June 2008


With the weather so nice outside, it seems such a shame to be standing in the dark, but with a promising line-up the night should be a good one.

The Outline from L.A. start to a near empty room and, while their music is totally lost on most of the audience, it catches a few people around the room. Sounding like the Mars Volta without the endless guitar wankery and unnecessary ambient noises, the songs are like mini-epics, switching from fast paced and heavy to slow and melodic in the blink of an eye. These guys sound like they’d be right at home playing Reading Festival’s main stage just after sunset on Sunday. All the qualities of a truly great band — but without the fans. Sadly the audience (mostly girls under 18) don’t seem to care about this band – the lack of recognisable hooks and sing-a-long choruses, even in ‘Shotgun’, causes masses of disdain and apathy.

Twin Atlantic arrive just as The Outline finish their set, the Scottish band’s van having broken down the night before. They quickly set up but frustration is obvious on the members’ faces as they start. The lead guitarist’s guitar is silent for most of the first song and the guitar strap for the singer keeps falling off! They struggle through, still putting on a good performance and it just takes a couple songs for the band to get into it. Once they get going the band put on a great show, sounding similar to fellow Scots Biffy Clyro. The band are very tight and bring an energy that was a much needed boost to the show. The last track from them is obviously known by a few in the crowd – ‘Audience and Audio’. Even those that had not heard the band before pricked their ears up for the clever guitar lines and excellent vocals. Despite the band playing a good set, the audience barely move, many seeming confused that there are bands that don’t get played on MTV. It’s a shame but both support acts would be better playing smaller shows with an audience that gave a damn.

Say Anything enter to massive applause and kick off straight into a crowd pleasing track from new album ‘In Defence of the Genre’, but after only two songs lead singer Max wanders off to chat to the drummer, while two of the three guitarists chat to the audience. It soon transpires that the vocal monitors are not loud enough for Max to hear himself without singing too loud and losing his voice. About ten minutes go by and the audience seems anxious that the set will be canceled, however Max gives the crowd a choice — A couple more full band songs or a longer set with just him and a guitar. After much confusion the band kick off with a few more tracks. These are met with much enthusiasm although there is still no motion on the dancefloor.

The music is messy and cluttered as all the guitarists play the simple melodies of the songs. The crowd don’t care though, just relieved that the band are playing. After another few songs they stop again, leaving another big pause. By now the audience is getting more and more annoyed. This all melts away however as Max starts again on his own. While at first it seemed that he was just acting up, he now seemed genuine, his music sounding much more emotional and heartfelt coming purely from the man who wrote it. The audience is full of people gently singing the words, making it feel like there was a choir on stage. The crowd seem to really enjoy the new style but it is all over too soon. The singer cuts the night short, apologizing again. To me, the solo style suited the music much better; perhaps more solo gigs in future would be nice. It’s also nice to see a band that really seems to care about their audience. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that we witnessed something special tonight.

Review – Terra Duff
Photos – Adam Spall

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