Two stages were poised ready for a night of head-banging and beer-swigging; the audience, immersed in bated anticipation, were rapidly growing in size; and six bands were symphonically primed to entertain. Snuff Lane had organised a night to astound, and they didn’t disappoint by any stretch of the imagination.
Opening the event upstairs were The Grand Mal, a group who broadcasted their lack of live experience like they would be rusty or poor in quality. They weren’t. They performed their metal-esque offerings with a trim group dynamism that was as impressive to the ear as it was the eye. The substance wasn’t original per-say, but they were notable nonetheless. It was a perfect way to warm-up the evening ahead.
Up next were Quadrilles, a charismatically charming rock/pop band who seemed a tad lost amongst the heavier bands that encircled them. This variety, however, bode well with me, and I couldn’t help but feel beguiled at their quirky ingenuity and likeable personas. Their simplistic melodies were peppered with dashes of complex rhythms, experimentation, and an eccentric amiability built to intrigue.
The third group to perform were unlike something I’ve ever witnessed. Vôdûn entered the upstairs stage garbed in tribal make-up and ethnic clothing, initiating their set with a state of atmospheric confusion. What preceded however was a soulful amalgamation of heavy rock with multitudes of hallucinogenic resonances, and an energy that seized you regardless of whether or not you actually liked their initiative sound. Admittedly their set was ineffably surreal, but it’s refreshing to see an act hell bent upon blowing minds and eardrums with something new.
Following on from the dreamlike spectacle were Fall of Messiah, a French instrumental post-rock group who are a must-see for anyone who wants to have their views on live music changed forever. The group started as they meant to go on: akin to a dramatic whirlwind of soft, heavy and dense music, intertwined with well-placed screams in the depths of their sound. Eyes-closed and bodies swaying, the band lost themselves within their music and played with a heartrending adoration for their craft. I thought I’d seen passionate bands before, but Fall of Messiah took it to a whole other level, and their lack of an actual vocalist wasn’t missed for a second.
Next up were Limb, and following on from Fall of Messiah was always going to cause elevated levels of anxiety for anyone. Yet, the band implemented their doom rock echoes without an inch of apprehension. This confidence however, struck me as an undesirable arrogance that swamped my view over their evident talent.
Finishing the evening were We Never Learned to Live, and the Brighton group were in no way set to dishearten their eagerly avid audience with their screaming scrumptiousness. In an atmosphere of intense anticipation they executed a record-quality live performance that withdrew no amount of passion or talent. I’ve been fortuitous enough to watch their post-rock prowess before at Studio Bar, Penzance, but this performance suspended me in an entirely different ecosphere and justly shone the evening’s spotlight firmly on them. They ended the night exactly how it should have been ended: with the venue in a state of complete awe and sadness over its conclusion.
Words by Keira Trethowan
Photography by Craig Taylor-Broad