Tuesday 5 February 2013

Filthy Visuals and Echo Park at Bull and Gate - 2 February 2013

Filthy Visuals 

It’s another Saturday night, so what to do? The logical solution is to schlep down to the Bull and Gate to see some bands that I know nothing about.

The first thing that strikes me is that the place is much busier than is usually the case for these portmanteau gigs where there is nothing much between the bands in terms of their current career trajectory.

One of the first rules of rock is that a band needs to make an immediate impression. Bedford’s own Filthy Visuals certainly do that.

Sporting hair that has been chopped and teased into elaborate asymmetric explosions and adorned with facial make-up that hints at Manga villains (or in the case of the drummer, a panda that has let its mascara run), the boys in the band make sure that they do not go unnoticed.

In contrast to the Sigue Sigue Sputnikery around her, Steph the singer and guitarist is much more conventionally attired in leather jacket, short skirt and stockings – the rock chick paraphernalia that will never go out of fashion. She wears it well.

The band play a happy brand of straight forward hard rock. Steph has a strong voice that ranges between a soaring roar and a kitteny growl. Tracks like ‘Harder’ and ‘Dancin’ Backwards’ stand out.

There is a lot to like about Filthy Visuals and, if at times they are slightly stiff onstage, that is nothing that getting more gigs under their belt won’t fix.  As it is, I would already say that they would make some band a damn fine support act. Now they’ve got to grab the top slot for themselves.

It becomes clear that it is the next act, Echo Park, who have drawn the bulk of the fans to the venue tonight. You can see why.

This gang of young lads from Guildford are an infectious good time right from the off, bouncing around the stage like balls in a bingo machine.

Theirs is an uptempo blend of rock and pop, showcasing the vocals of Laurence Brundson. He can really belt it out, work the audience and lead the band – excellent front man skills.

My only mild criticism of Echo Park would be that whilst I enjoy them when they are in full swing on the stage in front of me, the songs that they are playing don’t make that much of an impression. The band are an instant pleasure, a sugar rush of jolly pop enthusiasm – but it doesn’t last once the music stops.

The Black Yolks are also well supported here tonight, but I can’t quite see what the fuss is about.  This is rather meat and potatoes rock music that may be well performed, but doesn’t connect with me at all.

Vocalist Sophie Harrison has a good set of pipes, but the whole thing is a little too chicken in the basket/ cruise linery for my tastes. Different strokes, I guess.

Not a bad Saturday at all. I really like Filthy Visuals, and Echo Park have enough pep to cheer up any gloomy evening. So I take away fond memories...

...and a rather nasty bite on my hand that makes me feel that the Bull and Gate may be harbouring some unwelcome guests in its upholstery!

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