I have been fans of both of these acts for a while now, and the chance to see Film School and British Sea Power on one bill was very promising, even if it was a work night. EvilSponge showed up at The EARL at 9:45, and within minutes (at 9:50 if you can believe it!) Film School started to play.
Guitarist Dave Dupuis kicked things off on the darkened stage with a wall of guitar squeal, his instrument screaming under waves of distortion. Vocalist Greg Bertens soon joined him, torturing his guitar as well. This went on for a few minutes, the two guitarists on stage tweaking pedals and thrashing their instruments, and then rhythm kicked in and Film School tore into it.
Dave Dupuis in pedal-tweaking action.
The band moved quickly, pausing for distorted guitar solos, but moving through songs at a furious pace. Not to say that they played fast, but rather that the energy just never let up. They played Sick Hipster Nursed By Suicide Girl to the approval of the crowd. The tore through Lectric, Lorelei Plotczyk's bass driving the song forward at a breakneck pace. They played Two Kinds, showcasing Jason Ruck's keyboarding to nice effect. I was impressed with how, given the sheer amount of guitar noise, the keyboards and bass still sounded clear and precise. Kudos to EARL soundman Curt Wells.
Greg Bertens on "lead vocal and forgetting to shave".
Film School played for about 45 minutes, and i enjoyed every minute of it. This was loud, distorted rock, with a hint of gothic darkness thrown in. I happily bounced along, singing the words to the songs i know so well from their excellent third album Hideout. In fact, they ended on a real high note, playing a wonderful version of What I Meant To Say, that album's closer.
Film School in action.
After the last notes finished ringing through the club, i stood there thoroughly enjoying that certain high that comes from seeing a great band play well. This was a stunning performance. I have enjoyed Film School well enough to date, but after seeing them play like that, they have moved up a tier in my mental directory of bands. They now belong in the category "bands i will go see on weeknights". No, really. If you like distorted vaguely new wavish rock, then you need to catch them performing. They are one of the best acts performing that style these days, which is saying something because the New Wave Revival is a rather crowded scene. Really, go see them. You won't regret it. You might need earplugs though….
We stood there chatting with non-minion affiliates while British Sea Power set up. No foliage on stage this time, which is different for them. Instead they had nautical flags draped over their amps and hanging on the walls. A new theme then.
The two vocalists in British Sea Power. I wonder which one is "Yan"?
At 11:08 standard EARL time, the lights dimmed and the sound system at the club began cranking out All In It, the epic Godspeed-aided opening track of their latest record. The crowd starting chanting along, "We're all in it, all in it, all in it and we close our eyes" as British Sea Power took the stage. Their normal five-piece lineup has been increased by a female violaist, who played barefoot, on the stage at The EARL. Ewww. (Best not to think about it.)
British Sea Power is actually derived from their use of the coronet. If only the Spanish Armada had known...
They played wonderfully, a full 80 minute set of complex pop. Scott and Neil Wilkinson (who go by Yan and Hamilton, respectively, for some reason) traded vocals back and forth, each taking the mic for a few songs before handing it back off. Violaist Abi Fry added a nice countermelody to the singing. I think the addition of viola is a nice touch. It really seems to flesh out their sound even more.
They played mostly off of their latest record, the epic Do You Like Rock Music?, including a rollicking version of Waving Flags and a crowd-chanting No Lucifer. The EARL was not packed, but there was a respectable crowd for a Monday night, and people really seemed to be getting into it.
Martin Noble in action. With "Yan" in the background. Or is that "Hamilton"?
On the downside, they played a different version of Fear of Drowning, my favorite track from their debut album. This version meandered around, and never really jelled into anything that significant. And of course, they ended the show with a traditional British Sea Power freak out jam, all the members pounding away and jumping around on stage. This seemed to last FOREVER, and i grew weary of it after a while. In fact, lead guitarist Martin Noble eventually set his instrument down and headed to the bar for a drink, leaving the rest of the band to finish without him.
Martin Noble grows weary of the traditional "closing of the set noisy freakolut".
Overall through, this was an excellent evening. Definitely the best show so far this year. Upcoming bands have a lot to live up to…