Dirty Hearts Club January 2011

Dirty Hearts Club Fifth Birthday Party – Scott Hutchison (Frightened Rabbit), The Little Kicks & JJ Bull and the Dinosaurs – 27/01/11

So, my first gig of 2011 and its nice that I don’t have to wear my winter clothes, by that, I mean an extra pair of socks and a scarf (although I do sneakily grab my pashmina on the way out!).  Tonight is my dads birthday, and arguably more importantly, the 5th birthday of Dirty Hearts Club at Snafu, I always feel a bit naughty going out on a school night.  Originally billed as We Were Promised Jetpacks, unfortunately they had to pull out due to illness, we now have an acoustic set from Scott from Frightened Rabbit, The Little Kicks and JJ Bull.  Having a stressful time at work at the moment, will be far too easy to get drunk, best behave though, don’t want to forget half the gig and be hung over for work in the morning.

First on tonight is JJ Bull and the Dinosaurs, tonight featuring Mr Duncan Leddingham on fiddle.  Most of you wont know who Duncan is, but if you were Elgin Academy class of 2004, you’ll know Duncan, and I had to mention him in this review, firstly, because he is the best fiddle player ever, and secondly, and more importantly, because he told me to say that.  I don’t really know what to say about JJ Bull, and through no fault of their own.  I don’t like Snafu as a venue for live music, I always think the sound is awful, and can never hear what is being said or sung from the stage.  My friend even thought the singer was female for a while, until we managed to get a glimpse of the stage through a sea of checked shirts.  The curse of the Aberdeen music scene appeared again tonight, people talking throughout the set.  It wasn’t until about five songs into the set that our ears pricked up and we thought, ooh this is good, a ceilidh like upbeat number that actually had us tapping along.  The final song of the set would probably be the highlight, rather catchy and we could actually hear what was being sung from the stage.  All in all, a bit disappointing, but I would say it was not the fault of JJ Bull, but the sound system in Snafu, shame.

Next, a personal favourite of mine (I make it no secret as to how much I love Steven Milne’s voice, and I’m not just sucking up!), The Little Kicks.  Not surprising that they would be on the bill for Dirty Hearts Club birthday party.  The usual good quality, professional set from the Little Kicks, sounding a little better than JJ Bull but still kinda hard to hear what Steven is saying and singing, which is a real shame.  The Little Kicks always produce an enjoyable yet varied set, playing new material which sounds different and yet you can tell it comes from them.  Tonight, I’m hearing what I like to call “beats”, songs with a bit more electronica to them, and on the other end of the spectrum, darker more haunting songs which sound a little like the Courteeners.  Versatility.  Love it.  It makes me wonder why the Little Kicks aren’t deemed as Aberdeens best band and rather the Xcerts are, the only reason I can think of is because the Xcerts moved south and the Little Kicks have remained in Aberdeen.  In my opinion, I prefer the Little Kicks, I like how they vary their set and how different, and yet the same, their songs sound.

So, here I have to mention the toilets.  Oh jeezo, if you’re a girl and you’ve been in the toilets in Snafu you will know what I’m talking about (sorry boys, no idea what your loos are like!).  Right, so there’s like 5 cubicles, at the beginning of the night, they are good, like you would expect, clean, stocked with loo roll, decent.  By about the middle of the night, its starting to look a bit messy, a few loos are out of roll, there’s a couple of puddles, getting a bit minging.  End of the night, woah, its like being at T in the Park, but in a club.  Two of the cubicles have been thrown into pitch blackness, great when trying to pee, two of the cubicles are totally flooded and we’re needing our wellies for a safe trek to the toilets, and the third is out of loo roll.  Ewww, lovely!

About 10.30, Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit takes to the stage.  If it hadn’t been for the massive cheer, I might have missed this, partly due to the fact I was stood behind two 6ft tall blokes, and mainly because of the crap sound and Aberdeen curse of folk talking.  There were an awful lots of drunken yells of “We Were Promised Jetpacks!”, and even though there was a facebook message sent out about keeping quiet during the set, it was still near impossible to hear what was coming from the stage.  I guess this next point is actually a compliment to Scott and Frightened Rabbit  although another reason why it was so hard to hear, everyone was singing along, loud!  Which I guess for the performer is great and a huge sense of pride would be felt.  But for me, trying to listen in, makes it very hard.  The first few songs kinda drifted over my head, it was hard even to know when one song finished and the other began. Unfortunately, we had to move further towards the back coz it was clear we weren’t going to get much out of the gig, which was really disappointing.  Although I’m not a Frightened Rabbit fan, someone I work with is a huge fan, and I was really looking forward to hearing what they were like.  After the gig, sadly I still don’t really know.  What I do know, is that Scott played one of my all-time favourite songs as part of his encore, N-Trance’s Set You Free, although it did take me ages to recognise it, and even after I sang along (yeah, I’m a brilliant singer don’t you know) my friend still couldn’t figure it out.  One comment though, he played a good long set, I would say about 45 minutes to an hour.

I have to say it, but I came home disappointed from this gig.  I couldn’t hear what was going on, I couldn’t see what was going on (although that my fault for being a short ass) and I just wasn’t “getting” the birthday party atmosphere.  I thought the music was a bit slow and unexciting for a 5th birthday, it could have been really exciting and upbeat, there could have been cake and balloons and a clown or magician.  Maybe that’s just not the atmosphere that was intended for the night though.  So, I hate to say it, but tonight just didn’t thrill me, sorry. JoJo

Frightened Rabbit MySpace

The Little Kicks MySpace

JJ Bull MySpace

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One Response to Dirty Hearts Club January 2011

  1. Mitch says:

    I’m sorry, but style and content-wise, I REALLY struggled with parts of this review.

    A large part of this reads like a ranty blog against Aberdeen’s music scene and Snafu’s toilets, both of which, I feel, wouldn’t ride high on the list of priorities for the casual fan surfing in on this page looking for some commentary about Scott’s performance – or indeed, any other bands on the bill. I was irritated by the level of conversation during JJ Bull and The Little Kicks too, but to be honest, from where I was standing (the front half of the room, probably about ten feet from the bar) the atmosphere was pretty amazing for Scott’s set. It seems odd to me that you (quite understandably) heap scorn on people for talking here, then frame the fact that everyone was singing along with Scott’s set as some kind of drawback. What would you rather have happened? As you correctly pointed out, it WAS a party, after all.

    I’m completely with you when it comes to apathetic, unreceptive audiences who don’t give support acts the time of day, especially acts that are as high calibre as the ones that were the opening acts here. That said, it kind of beats me that you criticise the night for being lacking in a party atmosphere in the same breath that you point out how many people were clearly REALLY into Scott’s set – and pretty vocal about it – as something that you found hindered the whole experience?

    I wasn’t standing near the back of the room like it seems like you were for at least part of the night, and from what I could hear, it did sound like there was an annoying level of chatter back there. However, I think what I find most unusual about this review is how thin it is on comments on the actual performance by the headline act. I know you said “you couldn’t tell when one song ended and the next began” but to be honest, I find that pretty difficult to believe, considering each song seemed to me to be bookended by 1. people stopping singing, and 2. rapturous applause.

    As a venue, I’m not an enormous fan of Snafu, and my opinions on audiences seem to pretty much fall in line with yours, but in my opinion (and that is, of course, all it is), sounding off at length about either is more at home in a blog than a specific gig review.

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