Isa and the Filthy Tongues, Two Minute Noodles and Min Diesel – The Tunnels – 25/04/10
Two reviewers taking up a fair share of the of the total audience is not what we’d expected to find on a Saturday night with three bands on offer but that’s what happened. Never the less, here’s what New York Johnny and Still Burning thought of the evening’s entertainment.
New York Johnny – It’s an all too familiar sight in Aberdeen these days, bands playing to empty venues. Are the wrong bands being put on? Are the promoters failing to promote? Are there simply too many gigs in town? I don’t know which it is but it certainly makes for a dour and downbeat evening for all concerned, bands, punters and venue alike.
First up tonight was the noisy-pop trio that is Min Diesel who had the unenviable task of opening the night’s proceedings by playing to about twenty souls, all of whom (apart from two or three) remained congregated in the bar area of the Tunnels for the duration of their set. To be honest, it was too early a start and most people, I suspect, would have preferred to chat with their mates over the first couple of drinks of the evening. Conversation was rendered impossible though because of the volume of the band so we were forced to turn our attention to the stage. Min Diesel have been playing out a lot of late and are a competent enough band. Their song structures and timings remind me in places of Dinosaur Jr although the vocal delivery is a lot richer and more tuneful than that of J Mascis. They have a couple of songs aspiring to greatness in tonight’s short set but by and large they passed me by. Fifteen minutes after they’d played, I’d already forgotten what they sounded like.
Next up the stage is set up with a drum kit and a bank of keyboards facing each other stage front. This is how Leeds duo Two Minute Noodles do their thing. And that thing is started out as two minute noodles (with no capital letters) but has over time developed into fully-fledged organ-driven instrumentals. It looks awful in print but works surprisingly well in reality. Certainly well enough to drag a couple of dozen (yes, the crowd – ha! – had doubled by this point) interested parties down onto the dancefloor where the obligatory semi-circle was formed. The key to the success of the Noodles formula is their use of real drums and a real drummer. Whereas most purveyors of this electronic, instrumental type of music seem to see percussion as no more than a necessary evil and favour loops of synthetic sounds, the Two Minute Noodles drummer is the star of the show. The juxtaposition of the almost ambient keyboard washes with the rock drumming, full of powerful rolls and BIG finishes makes their sound very listenable. Seeing a decent drummer up close from this angle is something you don’t get to do that often and it makes for a surprisingly watchable experience. The nodding heads and warm applause between tunes is testament to that and the drummer – also spokesman for the night – seems genuinely happy at the response. A very enjoyable set and the surprise package of the night.
The numbers haven’t grown any by the time headliners Isa & The Filthy Tongues take to the stage. (I think we counted 36 in) None the less, they give us a good enough set but it’s apparent they’re disappointed with the turnout. Between-song chat is kept to a minimum and there’s a sense of getting the gig over and done with. As expected, a fair bit of tonight’s set is drawn from their newly released Dark Passenger album with a couple of gems from their debut thrown in for good measure. They seem to be going for a less eclectic sound on the newer material, dropping the spaghetti western chords and rockabilly flourishes in favour of the darker pop styles of the likes of Garbage or maybe the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It seems to go down well enough with the hardy few gathered on the dancefloor but about half of the punters remain in the bar area, seemingly disinterested in the music on offer. After what seems like an incredibly short set, they finish up. The incidental music goes on immediately and the band is virtually blocked in onstage while they pack up their gear, seemingly all but forgotten as the venue staff all rush about getting things set up for the club night that is to follow. Maybe a sign of where The Tunnels’ priorities lay tonight. Whatever, it was a disappointing end to a disappointing evening. New York Johnny
Still Burning – This gig reminded me of the first gig at The Tunnels that I’d declined to review for FnS. It was a Monday night (I think) in December, Kashmir Red and Tijuana Sun (acoustic set) supporting The Paddingtons. I’d looked forward to seeing all the bands, two of whom for the first time and Tijuana I’d seen a couple of times before. Talking to Mark (TS) and Steve (KR) at the bar before they went on stage I got a vibe that they were both really looking forward to playing but what followed was just a disappointment for all with less than 20 people in attendance for the support acts. When The Paddingtons performed I counted 23 people there, and that included some of KR and TS. This random review is terribly late, and I apologise to any of those bands reading it but I just went home pretty fed up that Aberdeen had failed to turn up on the night. I’m sure that they must get more at practise sessions at times. For what its worth I enjoyed all three bands, and will do KR a bit more justice on FnS when I get the chance. Speaking to one of The Paddingtons sisters (who I’d counted in the 23, oops) she said that Tom (their vocalist) can be a bit grumpy when there’s a small crowd but they played the full set that they had planned and for that they should be commended.
Anyway. Back to Saturday Night at The Tunnels. Yes, Saturday night. At a venue with no passing trade at all, and a decent gig as competition at Drummonds, never mind all the other options that people have on a Saturday night. Having thought about it a fair bit since I’m not sure if this gig would have had a bigger crowd if it was free to get in. Aye, free. It was only four quid though, so not a major door tax. Apparently there was a redneck rampage doo on later on and the thirty odd crowd had contained a couple of people in cowboy boots and shirts to match so maybe they should be deducted to give a real total I’m not sure. I wandered up to Belmont Street when it was finished and found a pile of folk in the Triple Kirks in redneck type attire so no doubt it was busy later on. Not sure what the crowd was like in Drummonds on the night but maybe putting the bands together and having a bigger bill at one venue might have made better sense. I dunno. It certainly takes the mood down a wee bit (for everyone) when the place is virtually empty.
(get on with it SB!) Right, aye, the bands. I’d looked forward to Min Diesel as I’d never seen them before but I think they were on and playing before the `I’m at a gig` mood had set in. The guitars seemed to be a bit loud though, drowning out the vocalist (in my opinion). It’s like they maybe needed to drop a gear when the singing began, to highlight it a bit more perhaps. I liked the third song in best, and I really should have paid more attention to which one it was. I’m sure I’ll catch these lads around again soon though.
Two Minute Noodles for me were a rare treat. You can’t help but be intrigued as to how a non singing organ and drum kit duo are going to develop in their half hour or so but it certainly worked for me. Some tracks starting a bit more slowly and gaining pace as they went along but despite the frantic (at times) drumming the use of the organ was just superbly worked out. Not what I’d feared for at all. Strangely, I can see this band playing at a busy club night and not being out of place. The drummer generated a good vide about the venue with appearing to genuinely enjoy their performance, and was also appreciative of applause from the audience. I really hope these guys come back to the ‘deen again.
Isa and the Filthy Tongues maybe don’t need much of an introduction and I think that The Tunnels was a good venue to put them on. I don’t really think their actual performance can be faulted on the night bar maybe missing out a few songs that we’d expected to be aired (nae Nae Tongues!) but I quite enjoyed watching Stacey do her thing on the stage. Big Blue and Big star were the highlights for me in a set that also contained Do What I want, Suicide Pimp, Call Me, Crew Cut, Beautiful Girl, I’m With You, Normal Boy, Finders Fuckers and finishing with Bam Bam. The set ended a bit abruptly with a dedication for someones birthday then it was, err well, that’s it, game over. It all ended a bit sharp for me.
I can’t help wondering how this entire show would have been very different at a half full Cafe Drummonds. Still Burning