by Jos Betts
This Monday night R*E*P*E*A*T ushered four bands through the doors of the Man on The Moon for an evening that saw the youngsters clearly coming out on top. Considering the spates of emo-styled bands that appear to be clogging up the countrys smallest venues at present it was a great feeling to finally be wowed by one in the form of homegrown group Ascendia. Even better was the remarkable funk-psych hybrid sound spawned by the headliners 10 Foot Monster.
Opening the evening had been a fast-moving set from four-piece The Alpha Beaters. Despite a great cover of Dont Look Back into the Sun and a complete lack of self-indulgence, they were let down by weak vocals and a static stage presence. Following them were Crudearm, who seemed to have put more effort into their video backdrop than into the songs themselves. Documentary style footage for each song was coupled with vocal samples in the vain of the Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible. Yet there was none of the energy or forceful anger that might have made the strategy successful. The points being made seemed vacuous, and the music itself moved very slowly under a set of barely audible vocals.
Fortunately, the slack was taken up admirably by the young men of Ascendia, whose three-way vocals and tight, punchy songs provided a much needed breath of fresh air. Mixing metal growls with spot-on harmonies, and delivering them in a blast of distorted guitars, Ascendia managed to pull off a set made up completely of catchy songs that followed one another relentlessly. Whilst not quite looking like professionals, there was also marked effort to look the part onstage and actually move. Each simple punky beginning broadened out into something that was given depth by the vocals, without ever straying into the completely predictable or formulaic.
Ten Foot Monster are a different kind of group, with three band members each taking different directions that ends up creating a unique sound. Their singer/guitarist has a swirling guitar sound which calls to mind more ambient Janes Addiction, as does his edgy stumbling and skinny frame. Much of the time, however, the guitar gives way completely to let a fantastic series of funk bass riffs walk all over some high-energy drumming. Musically, the vocals were the weak link, with a great set of lyrics occasionally being sung with less than the power they deserve, yet when they slipped into spoken word all the pieces seemed to come together to make something fantastic. Ten Foot Monster deserved to be capping an evening which had been dragged from ignominy, and ended the night with the most meaningful lyrics and innovative music that the night had to offer.