A juxtaposition of the bravado of youth and the modesty of age.
Last night I saw Hi Frisco supported by Two Weeks In Nashville at the Sebright Arms.
The last time I was there, I accidently saw Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes and Cat Princess. The accident salvaged an otherwise woeful afternoon spent with the Jeff Buckley Appreciation Society at Sofar Sounds (got you – that’s not a real band – it’s how you know weekends are better spent with Coronavirus than at Sofar Sounds).
Two Weeks In Nashville
Two Weeks In Nashville are a four-piece rock band. A young rock band. They’re talented and play well. They might disagree, but pop-rock’s their thing, with equal parts guitar solos, posturing, signing the horns, unnecessary lunges and tartan trousers.
Despite a high turnout for Hi Frisco, not many descended to the basement to watch Two Weeks In Nashville’s set. Instead, the audience arrived en masse at 8:45. Shitty crowd – check.
Two Weeks In Nashville played four songs (it could have been five). The set sounded like Train or U2 with a caveat. No Joshua Tree era aural landscapes or any sense of punctuated pre Rattle and Hum urgency.
That’s because Two Weeks In Nashville were missing something. Not with the performance; unless you’re offended by singers who cajole for claps and seem set on receiving restraining orders from their microphone stands; but the songs betrayed their youth. I say youth because it’s like the band’s a couple of haircuts away from figuring who they are (I also held the door for one of their mothers-come-roadie).
Further, while there’s no need to be obsessed with lyricism, vocals sit at the forefront of pop-rock songs, making derivative harder to hide.
Sure, rock music is built on cliches, but it’s pretty ambitious to cram ‘toy soldiers’, ‘no surprise’, ‘we’re coming home’, ‘at war with the world’, ‘we stand on mountains’, and ‘we are more than numbers’ into a single song. Yet Two Weeks In Nashville managed it with their latest single Take Control. If you haven’t guessed, I think it’s too much.
I’m not writing this to be cruel.
Last night Two Weeks In Nashville exhibited all the talent needed to entertain and excite. However, without a bolder, more personal direction, I think they’re going to find it hard to achieve.
Hi Frisco are an indie band with electronic elements. Apparently last night was their debut headlining gig. They played live as a four-piece, but apparently they’re normally a duo.
Their sound’s similar to Tame Impala, The War On Drugs and the Smith Westerns. Dreamy shoegaze pop, with eighties movie synths, bright guitar flurries and vocals that sort of float – you know, just go with the accompaniment instead of taking charge of the song.
They’re actually good. Surprisingly good. Not No Joy, Hare Tarot Lies good, but easily Smith Westerns, 3AM Spiritual good.
Either most of the audience knew them, or they were recently featured in Time Out, because for a free show, it was busy.
In sharp contrast to Two Weeks In Nashville’s exuberance, Hi Frisco’s frontman wore his fragility on stage, adding a slice of endearing to the performance.
They finished the set with their latest single, The War. While it was a short, more wasn’t necessary. Also, the shiny silver banner, apparently created by one of Hi Frisco’s mothers was very nice. Great job.
It reminded me that I’ve always found that Tame Impala songs drag, as if they’re hard to appreciate unless you’re stoned. Hi Fresco’s songs hit a similar note, but they’re more structured. More listenable. Of course, covered in a layer of sheen, but not applied so thick that you lose sight of the features.
Hi Frisco delivered a compact yet compelling dreamscape last night. The War is also cool, even if it was inspired by Atlas Shrugged.
Assuming they keep this up, I think they’ll be moderately big soon.
Gemma On Hard Times
Between sets, I met Gemma.
She said to me that the Sebright smoking alley was her turf. She’s been homeless for 26 months.
I gave her £1.10. When she asked me to walk her to a cashpoint, I declined. I bought two beers for myself at £11.00 instead. I regret that.
Gemma was drunk and I rolled her a cigarette.
We sat together for a bit. We didn’t have much to say.
She claimed people working at the Sebright knew her, and made her a drink called ‘Diabetes on Ice’, comprised of lemon juice and ribena. She didn’t mention the ice.
She said that instead of going to a hostel, she usually tried to get into a bed and breakfast. To do that she has to raise £26.00 a day. That’s about £790 a month. It’s more than my rent.
I’m not writing anything anyone doesn’t already know.
I don’t even know why I’m writing it.
It’s the first time I’ve had a conversation with a woman who’s homeless during a gig. She was carrying most of her possessions and hadn’t showered for a while.
I’m not sure that it means anything, but she was a feature of the night.
I hope she managed to find another beer.