Every year when the Rockwerk annual event swings round, it seems to become more diverse, covering even more styles-is this evolution?, maybe it’s got something to do with culture and the city apparently being the centre of it; the truth of the matter is these bands have always existed in one way or the other, they just don’t get the opportunity to ply their wares, and that’s exactly where Rockwerk comes into play.
Several bands have only several gigs under their belt, some none at all, others are stalwart veterans, all single minded in their approach to playing a good set tonight.
As always all three stages are in action this evening and almost like some musical litmus paper the loft represents the pop/rock indie styling’s, the bar something of a smorgasbord of all styles and the theatre becoming the metal dungeon-as though the heavier music is sinking to the bottom of the venue, through it’s sheer weight.
Rather than being lightly guided into tonight’s music, gently roused into the several hours of bands we start with Last words and it’s more akin to being woken with a straight shot-right to the face.
Last words have perfected the ‘snap’ of moving from clean, crisp melodies to dump truck heavy blasting and exhibit almost everything hardcore purports in the eviscerating ‘Portraits’. It’s crowd interaction whether they like it or not, grabbing heads, screaming lyrics and vaulting the barriers. It’s as though they are trying to break out of the venue and spill out onto Seel street, and with ‘Chuck Norris’ and the frankly astonishing ‘Angels fall from grace’ it looks like they would have a lot of followers if they chose to riot-that’s how you start an event.
As people travel between bands, traversing the stairs the Trigger hippies unstoppable playing and seemingly endlessly revolving chorus’ find people drawn to the bar stage and desperately trying to fit a credit card in-between the hippies rhythm.
Warming upstairs up nicely, with already a large crowd Cedar fall’s sedate and beautifully sparse sound is bridging styles between bands ‘The empty box’ resplended with it’s Peter hooky bass line draws everyone in and the new material-even when it builds up conventionally-still resolves impressively and its difficult not to be won over with ’Standstill’ and ‘Not enough love’.
Bands load out, some are setting up-there seems to be an endless precession of musicians moving through the crowd with gig bags as people head down to the Barfly bar, because clearly something very interesting is going on.
It’s human nature to be looking for the performance of the day, to measure who‘s best, but Crafty Freddie really are stealing the limelight tonight-why? Well there is a air of inexperience, clearly lacking in gig time ‘Crafty’ seem unsure before and after songs about what exactly to do, but front girl Hayley finds solace within songs, and it’s that uncertainly that presents an edge to the whole performance. It’s Sleeper, Morissette, Stefani and then altogether something else; and when a song has a difficult birth they pull ‘Play that funky music’ and start taking the set by the scruff gathering all their moves for the infectious ‘Decay’- crafty indeed.
Amongst the throng who had seen Eighth day army before something interesting was most definitely expected-the army’s angular riffs and unconventional musical routes have for the most part confused and enthralled people in equal amounts and tonight is no different. Chaos and scatter logical sounds are all important in music-they offer up corridors not normally considered and doors never really opened-but where eighth day fail tonight is travelling with these ideas. A misguided jazz break highlights ideas wandering in an out with seemingly no purpose. Clearly talented they appear to be committing the cardinal sin of attempting too much, changing between instruments and tap dancing pedals. At one point a riff is played cradling the guitar, with the other hand playing the keyboard and you can’t get away from the fact that they had a hand free whilst writing and just couldn’t leave it.
Bar side it’s more conventional, more meat and potatoes, solid rock with Bad precedent. It’s almost classic as one song apes ‘White wedding’ but manages to redeem itself with the old school rock of ‘Sweet loneliness’’ what makes Bad, good if you will is the conviction with which it’s played guitarist/vocalist James throwing himself into the songs, sometimes slightly out of tune-but always earnestly, tonight typified with ‘Don’t forget tomorrow’ providing the assembled with the difficult prospect of missing another band to listen to the songs conclusion.
Downstairs for the last time this evening and a drum n bass version of the ‘imperial march’ ensures that Day of mortality have a sense of humour-but seeing them stretch and warm up like some Beijing Olympiads of metal means that this may sting a bit.
Absolutely everything is thrown at the performance tonight, bassist Peglar flailing as guitarists place riffs and melodies around the songs with lead singer Scott setting them off and drummer Mike providing the light to his growl. ‘Seasons in grayscale’ and ‘Double coulred skulls’ just ripping. You want Day of to succeed, mainly because they play completely untarnished music that they enjoy-and that’s why these moments are so special-your witnessing the genesis here the very start of bands before getting infected by the business.
Before events conclude upstairs the bar is turned on it’s head as two gentlemen proceed to bring their brand of rap to the rock, seemingly having more fun than the audience it’s freestyle and entirely welcome after some of the seriousness ; and when they chant ‘This is how we rock’ faux gang signs are thrown up and people move from being surprised through intrigued to dancing like fools.
If not giving a fuck was an Olympic event ‘The Arkanes’ would not win gold, they would easily claim some kind of platinum/diamond hybrid. Playing almost as an afterthought it’s that old Oasis/brat pop sneer, leering through and it’s either so difficult to see past the front or that there is nothing behind it in the first place that means they largely pass by unnoticed.
And so it’s left to The pioneers to end the evening. With people coming upstairs from The crew finishing their sing a long set the room is suitably full; and it’s in good hands as The pioneers can seemingly do no wrong. Song after song is greeted with bigger and bigger responses and they seem almost oblivious to how well they are going down. Everything is up beat, relaxed and most importantly enjoyed. Making it almost impossible for everyone watching not to move, an in the case of ’Pursuit’ lap up every single chord stab and disarming lyric.
What’s special here though is that several bands have stuck around rather than leave after they have done their set. The trigger hippies are over by the sound booth, Crafty Freddie’s lead singer moves in and out of the crowd, and over by the bar Cedar falls chat and various members of every band on all stages mill around-it’s that mutual, at best respect or a least interest that means these events will not only always be relevant but also utterly invaluable.