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7 out of 10
I don't know what it is about the Brudenel in Leeds, but for some reason it always makes me feel a little bit sleepy. Maybe it's 'cos it's always really warm, and when I'm all wrapped up in my winter finery (well, a hoody) it simply exacerbates the problem. I often find this limits my enjoyment of bands. Pleasingly the opening band tonight, Tropics went some way to waking me up. Vaguely reminiscent of mid period Fugazi, with a side helping of what I believe is known as "sass", they played a tight, punchy set with some particularly complex bass twiddling. The three alternating vocalists worked well too.
Sadly their wakening prowess was all but undone by Russian Circles, whom I believe were co-headlining. I'm usually quite a fan of the whole epic post rock / metal thing (I love Pelican and Explosions in the Sky, and a selection of bands in between) but it's a tricky genre to pull off, and if not done right can be spectacularly bad. Russian Circles did have some moments of greatness in what felt like about a four hour set, every now and again threatening to break into a truly epic riff or genuinely touching moment of quiet, but never quite achieving it. Even these moments of greatness were few and far between. Apparently they recently toured with Tool, and there are definite similarities there - but then again Tool do nothing but bore me, so perhaps I just don't get it.
These Arms are Snakes were pretty much the polar opposite of Russian Circles. What they lacked in tightness and epic ambitions they made up for with sheer energy and manic onstage antics. Their crazy Southern rock sound lies somewhere between Blood Brothers and Clutch, with added keyboards and vocal weirdness. On its own not a bad recipe for a show, but coupled with a vocalist reminiscent of a hyperactive young Iggy Pop even the sound problems that plagued the band could not detract from the entertainment factor. Admittedly the crazy Animal from Muppets show began to grate after a while, and the set was probably a bit too long, but not enough to spoil the fun.
Listen: www.myspace.com/thesearmsaresnakes, www.myspace.com/russiancircles, www.myspace.com/tropicsmusic