For £3.50 these days there’s not a lot more a student can stretch their money to than a night of live music at the Yorkshire House (you know, that pub tucked away across from Sugarhouse). The most recent gig, organised by Jed Saint of LowBlowPromo, featured four bands ranging from local university talent to established bands in the north-west musical scene.
To those who have never been but have experienced local gigs before the Yorkshire House will feel reassuringly familiar. A crammed stage, friendly bar staff, a slightly dodgy sound-system and questionably clean surfaces are all necessary components of a great night of local live music.
Upon this stepped up the opening act, Phalligajtor (a name seemingly designed for journalists to misspell), a local outfit comprised of Lancaster students. Any starting slot can prove difficult but the band ensured they were up against it from the ante with a substitute bass guitarist and a drum machine for a 4th band member which was admirably enacted on drums, on stage, by Saint, the event organiser.
Hitches aside Phalligajtor had no problem quickly barraging the audience with their unique but highly bizarre sound. Heavy riffs were overlayed by erratic screaming vocals which gave way to sudden tempo changes and breakdowns. Even rap suddenly emerged on several occasions. Similarly, the on-stage banter was fun but unpredictable, exploring lyrics that covered the common musical ground of cheese on toast, Sweden and fantastical dystopias. To their credit Phalligajtor attempt to push musical and imaginative boundaries but it was hard not to get the impression too much might have been attempted with what the band had at its disposal. Like their name, Phalligajtor came across as overwhelming and confusing but admittedly bizarrely entertaining.
It was a sharp comparison, then, to observe the start of Our Day Remains’ slick, professional set. Formed in Bolton and signed to the independent label DeepestMuzik the alternative rock outfit have performed in the Lancashire area before; some might remember their performance at Cartmel Extrav last summer. For half an hour the band and charismatic lead vocalist Akil introduced the audience to song after song of synth-led rock. The genre is immediately reminiscent of Enter Shikari but with softer, cleaner vocals and the synth is combined more with You Me At Six-esque catchy choruses. Unfortunately, despite their ability, it’s hard to see Our Day Remains bringing anything dramatically new to the table beyond recycling other band’s sounds. The set ended on new single ’Lights Go Out’ which was without a doubt the best demonstration of the band’s talent for catchy choruses, lively synthesisers and wild guitar solos. The final song, like the rest of the set, was mostly met with delight from an audience that greatly increased in number.
The following outfit, The Sun Explodes, introduced a much darker and more atmospheric direction to the night. The Carlisle-based ‘post-post-hardcore’ musicians (a definition they ascribe to themselves) continued the use of an electronic, synthetic element to their sound but combined this with which much heavier, moodier guitar riffs. At the forefront their hooded vocalist murmured, screamed and belted emotionally charged lyrics with impressive range. The result was a performance less focused on crowd interaction or on stage banter than the last two bands but achieving a powerful ambience of building sound, chilling lyrics and heavy breakdowns.
Finally Innamorata, the second act comprised of Lancaster students, were left to draw the night to a thoroughly entertaining conclusion. In an instant songs such as ‘Afternoon Tea’ and ‘Coming Home’ demonstrated the quick-moving, fast-paced rock and roll the band was all about. With Stephanie ‘Mummy’ Beer holding together the frantic guitar riffs together with powerful but ranged vocals. However the talent of Innamorata rarely needed to stray towards repetition with the quick belters of the early set comfortably interchanged with songs of a slightly more ballad-esque nature such as ‘Rest In Pieces’. Later covers of the Foo Fighters and The Who add a further refreshing change to the mix and suggest the varied musical influences of Innamorta’s members can only be a healthy thing for their sound. Innamorata’s energy may have lacked a perfect polish of performance but this would almost have seemed detrimental to their passionate playing, entertaining stage interaction and decent efforts to get the audience moving. It may well be a cliché but its hard for a viewer not to have a good time when its obvious the musicians performing are having so much fun themselves. The good news is that for those looking forward to a return show haven’t got long to wait, Innamorata will be back early next term at the same venue, so keep your eyes peeled.