Tag Archives: Thekla

Alphabeat, Bristol

Two location changes saw Alphabeat‘s gig move from the green and prettily located Anson Rooms in Clifton, down to the centre and then to the back-of-an-industrial-estate feel of Bedminster. Through an alleyway, in the rain, I made my way to Fiddlers and got there eight minutes early. He arrived eight minutes late which gave me plenty of time to absorb all the smoking going on around the door and note with interest a car pull up with a young woman driver. She offers to sell two tickets and then gives them away after mentioning she had won them on the radio. Two girls rather indifferently take said tickets and then use them to get out of the rain rather than wait for their friends who had theirs.

My ticket’s arrival in the pocket of my beautifully luminous friend saw us make our way into a much more pleasant setting. Fiddlers was small enough to let us get quite close to the stage and at the same time spacious enough to host six or seven tables on one side, a large bar in the middle (cash only) and a stage with a setup that provided a pretty great sound.

This latest Bristol gig for the Danish band was six months to the day (and date) since they last entertained us at the Thekla. The supporting acts last night were Pearl and The Puppets and Eliza Dolittle. I heard the strains of the first act when I was out by the front but only really caught Eliza’s act properly. The soulful, coffee shop jazz was wonderfully melodious with the aid of a guitarist/ukulele player and a double bass. I loved the music which could have just as easily set the mood for drinking whiskey in a smoky, dark, little room with a saxophone just out of sight but winced at some of the contemporary lyrics about banisters and poles and skinny jeans. Fusion cultural offering at its best and probably easy to get used to once I give it another try.

Quality in small doses was obvious with the next band as well who were of course the main act. Friends were surprised that the venue was so small for such a big act although at the time it all seemed just right.

Anders and Stine were friendly and social in between songs taken from their last two albums. Fantastic six kicks off the night and Stine tells us that it is the last night of their tour. They cover songs such as Hole In My Heart, Chess and Heatwave from the new album The Beat Is. The latter song is quietly appropriate as the music venue keeps getting hotter during the night. I looked up to see whether there were any heating vents but apparently it was just the enthusiasm of the crowd. Anders needed a towel and his enthusiastic loping dancing was a little more muted as he dripped with sweat. With a towel around his neck he was still energetic enough to sing Touch Me,Touching You, Go Go and 10,000 Nights of Thunder.

As at the previous show, the end came way too fast and with Stine announcing their last song, my equally dismayed friend looked down on me and prophetically said but they haven’t played the Spell, DJ or Fascination. So then they did. The latter two were brilliant encores. To be seconds away from such fortune telling was quite impressive although it was all a bit forgotten when Anders threw his towel in to the crowd to excited and disappointed gasps (mine for being too far!).

The crowd was a mix of younger afficionados of skinny jeans, older shuffling dancers, joyful vivacious lovely blonde girls and some sportily attired fans. I’m sure that everyone walked out feeling cheerier than when they came in out of the grey, rainy evening. A later curfew at Fiddlers meant the walk home was at a time closer to midnight than 10pm and through the edge of Bedminster rather than the prettily lit Queen Square. However it was nice to be so close to a charming band although the location and heating may be a reason that it was available at such short notice for the band’s last change. No complaints though as it was a fantastic band which provided for a fascinating evening.

Two Door Cinema Club, under water

Two Door Cinema Club are an Electropop/Indie Rock band from Bangor and Donaghadee, Northern Ireland who formed in 2007. They played a sold out show at Thekla in Bristol on March 9 and their sound is a curious blend of synth augmented melodies, not unlike Passion Pit, but with curiously shallower and limited lyrics.

Lyrically short songs but a much longer band name which was a bit of problem when the audience tried to express their unbridled enthusiasm. It was the end of the night and it was time for the encore. The band walked off stage and the crowd started calling out. ‘What are they saying?’ Ellie and I asked each other. Four more? Two more? Two door? I couldn’t tell but they nonchalantly walked back on stage and played their last two songs. The ones that sounded very similar to nearly all the other songs played that night. Catchy riffs, catchy hooks but no real depth and no real anything else. Some that perhaps stood out a little more were the three singles Something Good Can Work, I Can Talk and Undercover Martyn (look out for the Passion Pit remix).

I enjoyed Undercover Martyn and it’s the reason I bought the tickets in the first place but after a while I realised that the constant repetition began to get tiring very quickly. I started counting down the set list from song number five (eight to go, seven to go…).

The young crowd who seemed to know all the lyrics made me feel quite old and indeed most of the night was spent in grouchy old woman mode where Ellie and I argued and prayed for health and safety to prevail. The supporting act, the Citadels, had a bit of a frenzied and unstable-banter inspired lead singer. The music was a little more diverse and quite thoughtful but the activity on stage was accompanied by cans of red stripe and some bizarre antics.

Towards the end of their set, after the blue sequin-clad female vocalist let go of the microphone and headed back to her keyboard and flute, the male and predominantly lead, vocalist took it upon himself to get into a rock frame of mind. He stood on the speakers at the front of the stage, gyrated and stomped on the guitar lying on the ground and then proceeded, in his enthusiasm, to spill beer all over the electrical equipment and wires. I grimaced, I cringed and I uttered some shocked recriminations to Ellie. What could he possibly be thinking?

The Two Door Cinema Club were the very antithesis to their support led antics. The crew tidied up the stage and carefully dabbed away the offensive fluid. Instruments were placed, tested and retested. We nodded our approval at the tape that was used to fasten the cables down to the stage and the care taken with this young band was evident.

Once their catchy tunes began to be heard, the crowd started jostling and pushing and shoving. ‘I notice some vigorous dancing going on’ noted the lead singer in his soft Northern Irish accent. ‘Just keep it safe’ he admonished and it was a strange thing to hear from someone so much younger than me but probably older than the crowd.

Safety and caution seemed to be their motto and they didn’t venture too far out of their depth. From my vantage point on the balcony I kept getting drawn to a bright orange sign on the floor with the words ‘weak spot’ written in big bold letters.

In his excited dancing progress, Alex Trimble, the lead singer would occasionally step on it and I kept waiting for something to happen. Nothing special happened that night but their tendency to play it safe might be a weakness which gives way very soon. For now they are celebrating the release of their first album Tourist History (March 1) to much plaudit and acclaim from the young Skins watching audience. The music was pleasant and catchy enough to explain why the French record label Kitsune Music signed up this young band but the repetition became old quite quickly.

Blood Red Shoes: rocking Thekla

Dark. Balcony. Sticky floor. The upstairs part of the Thekla main room has a great view but does have some disadvantages. The sticky floor is utterly icky and I’m sure my shoes still smell of beer. Nevertheless, it was a quiet little haven in a hall that was full and brimming downstairs. All of us there were anxious to see the main event and they did not disappoint.

Blood Red Shoes (@bloodredshoes) played the Thekla on March 4 and were supported by Underground Railroad. The support act included one girl on electric guitar, one drummer and one more guitarist / other.

Blood Red Shoes had two-thirds of the same composition. They didn’t have the ‘other’ but Laura-Mary Carter was on guitar and Steven Ansell on the drums. No red shoes in sight.

There was a curious little game played by one of the Thekla crew whose job for most of the set appeared to be to hold on to the guitar lead and roll up and away from the girl’s feet lest she trip. It was somewhat mesmerising although I should say that it wasn’t all he did. The sound guys put a lot more effort into making sure everything worked well than the O2 team put into the event the night previously. There was no feedback at this event and one of the guys rushed on to stage to adjust a microphone for the drum of the support act although the effect was only a subtle improvement.

A lot of effort was put into event by the venue and the bands. The music was loud and it rocked while the banter by the Blood Red Shoes lead singer was brief and friendly. With their new album ‘Fire Like This’ released March 1 in the UK they were enjoying some success exemplified by the handful of devoted fans who already knew the words. A whole host of musical pushing and shoving took off with the heavier songs and wave of people kept crashing into the stage. Upstairs in the balcony it all felt a little removed until the Thekla started swaying a little more than usual. By the end of the night even the music hall had got into the action and it was a hell of a show.

P.S. Pictures lovingly taken, and helpfully provided, by my friend Alli (do check out her Flickr). Gentlest telling off about the Passion Pit review by fellow attendee Paul, quietly noted. Blood Red Shoes also playing at Dot to Dot festival. Insane review in the Evening Post gives Blood Red Shoes the same score as Passion Pit. Ha!