by Ben Adsett
As you enter the 2 Pigs you are greeted with the unmistakable smell of live music, and on this occasion an additional greeting is provided by local four-piece ORTO. There is an energy emanating from the stage which makes every moment of their posthardcore/postrock set truly enticing, movement and stage presence combine to catch a room full of eyes.
As ORTO progress through a set full of creative lo-fi songs, the performance develops and hidden within technical guitars, sharp bass lines, heavy and driven drums hide occasional spoken word moments which are captivating in their Mark E Smith stylings. As suddenly as ORTO took the stage they left it to the soundtrack of their chaotic climax.
Floorboards announce their arrival with a slowly building layered feedback that leads into a set which certainly looks backward to look forward. There are hints of mid-noughties British rock throughout with vocals that flit between Hundred Reasons and Rueben, musically backed with Sparta and Hell Is For Heroes esqe crescendos. As a live entity Floorboards are very watchable. There is stage presence on all corners and they certainly have the audience suitably warmed up.
It’s lucky the audience are warm, Gun Shy are coming in hot with a wall of noise which is destroyed within seconds of their first song. If one thing is clear it’s this set is going to be an experience; these four are throwing songs at the crowd in a relentless fashion and with every song, every note and every beat they are upping the intensity. On a knife edge vocals change from saccharin sweet to guttural howls and guitars fly between angular and feedback soaked fuzz. This set is furiously paced and the delivery is almost feral with near misses as instruments and bodies narrowly avoid collisions and in turn damage. The combination of loud brash shoegaze/math rock alongside delicate angular guitars leave an audience entranced and as the stage is cleared there is a moment of silent amazement before the applause.
As jaws are picked up and refreshments found Muncie Girls call the crowd forward and begin, bursting into life within seconds. In an evening full of stage presence these three outshone all competition with seeming effortlessness, as a band there is a very natural feel to every note. This combines with lyrical honesty and a vocal style which ranges between fragile emotion and angry strength as required lyrically. Muncie Girls show incredible individual musicianship with a combination of complex basslines that see fingers become a blur on the fretboard, guitar parts which embrace effects and peddles to create an individual sound and drum lines that continue strong rhythms despite using every drum and cymbal throughout. It is no wonder there is an audience stood watching Muncie Girls or that they are tipped so hotly at the moment, on recordings they are one of the strongest and most accessible examples of the underground/DIY scene and live they are every bit as wonderful but with added live gloss and charm.
In a line-up that boasted one woman, she stole the show with a combination of raw talent and stage presence. If there are lessons from tonight they are: Muncie Girls are a band to be taken very seriously, Gun Shy are a talent to keep an eye on and Cheltenham has a very good scene!