Any town or city on an Easter Monday can be devoid of stimulation or enthusiasm. Thankfully the Brudenell Social Club, in Headingley, provided some respite for those hungry for inspiration. The venue itself is welcoming, and provides a sense of the audience being engaged with the artists, on the small, but easily accessible stage.
Blacklisters are a Leeds based band that have been around since 2008, and have shared the stage with Melt Banana, Rolo Tomassi and, fellow purveyors of sarcasm-rock, Future of the Left. To a rapidly filling venue, the band tore through a convulsive set that was interspersed with anecdotes and one-liners from vocalist Billy Mason-Wood. The energy radiating from a Blacklisters performance is centred purely on the music and the fervour with which it is delivered. The songs themselves may be concerned with the trivia of life and what can be considered peculiar and amusing, but that is not to detract from the exhilaration of the moment. The music is confrontational and aggressive, but at the same time is considered and almost geometric.
Chicago, Illinois based Pelican have been described on several occasions, loosely, as post-rock, doom-metal and stoner-rock. From the performance tonight, these terms are irrelevant, as the band appeared confident, vibrant, brimming with vitality and generally to be having a very fine evening out. After a performance as volatile as that of Blacklisters, to maintain the attention of the audience must be a particularly odious task.
Pelican tonight, however, did not display any sense of being defeated. The bands recorded output is characterised by epic journeys of sound, with multifarious guitar motifs layering the experience into a crescendo of controlled clamour, which, as one song title evokes perfectly, is rather like “March(ing) into the Sea”. The lack of vocals allows the band to defy categorisation and develop their own variety of intelligent narrative. Interaction with the audience was amiable and warm, which can often contradict the music associated with post-rock introspection. A new EP of compositions “Ataraxia/Taraxis” is being promoted on this tour, and the tunes on that release, including conquering melodies and dark, sinister, minimalist soundscapes, indicate a band who are developing their sound and, hopefully, bringing it to a wider audience.
The band left the stage at the end of the evening to a cacophony of feedback and noise, and left audience members bewildered but content. As can so often be the case, the studio cannot do justice to the potential force a band can generate in the live setting. Pelican tonight showed that it is possible to have fun, be entertaining and play clever compositions.
Photographs taken by Andrew Benge