grasshopper, Tin Foil Astronaut and Frank & Beans at The Prince Albert – 19/4/2016

I didn’t review any music or gigs in a while. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way so I probably shouldn’t be afraid to say it: There’s a whole lotta music out there that just straight up sucks. The level of quality of an average Brighton gig is still probably a lot higher than it is in many other places, so it’s a bit like saying I’m tired of eating good food every day, but when I ask a normal, regular person, with no special interest in the music scene or the industry, what they think about the gig, they WILL say their legs hurt. Listen up, bands: Your music makes people think about the fact that they’re standing up and how that’s maybe a little bit uncomfortable. That’s the thought in your listeners’ heads. Good job.

 

I was actually looking forward to this event though. And it seems like Frank & Beans found the cure for your leg-pain. The only way you stop listeners from wanting to go home and sit down is to take away their ability to think. With Frank & Beans there’s always something happening, you are constantly engaged. Musically, they take equal measures of inspiration from jazz standards and old-school blues as they do from Parquet Courts or Fugazi, meaning everything is changing all the time and rarely do you get to settle into an all-too-comfortable groove. Visually, there’s no way you can stop looking at the stage, you can tell they’re mostly playing at the peak of their abilities at any given moment and as a concert-goer, from now on, I will accept no less from anyone else.

 

Expectations were already pretty high after the last set, but as Tin Foil Astronaut started setting up on stage, multiple guitars, pedalboards with smaller pedalboards stacked on top and a birthday cake of keys and controllers, I thought ‘You better prove you actually need five people to play your music,’ and, boy, they do! This is not a local band, they come from the land of Fuoco and judging by their export, we could use a couple more like them down here. The songs were elaborate and sufficiently different from one another but still clearly organized and structured – that’s difficult to pull off with a bigger band like that, where everyone needs to play a part and the parts can clash into a grey sizzle of overdrive, feedback and cymbals, but I remember only thinking that once or twice. Influences from electronic synth-y sounds and the final free-bird-freak-out were definite standouts of the set – you should come hang again, Tin Foil Astronaut.

 

The night was a weird one for grasshopper. I like the band, they played the first Give It Back gig last year and impressed everyone who’d listen. The songs they recorded are of a very mature and developed breed of post-punk and whenever someone asks me who they are, I just think ‘Oh boy, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you,’ and then I tell them anyway, because it’s like a little Brighton secret, a hidden gem, the fact that we have a cool post-punk band consisting of mostly underage kids who have to leave the venue after their set due to age restrictions. I wish them well and hesitate to complain about anything, especially under the circumstances – their drummer was sick and the rhythm section had to be supplied through (presumably) recording stems. That’s a shame because the balance between cymbals and drums on a recording is usually not suitable for a live performance (meaning the cymbals are too low) and it was a little bit awkward to look at. That’s alright though – grasshopper seem to have a loyal following of older fans and the band’s presence is very friendly and down-to-earth. Plus they didn’t really have anything to prove last night… Hope to see you again, grasshopper, under more ideal conditions. Until next time!

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