The Dykeenies, The Strand

Jac Bond 18/07/2007

Having enjoyed a couple of 'bows in the Rummer Tavern a few friends and I proceeded to the Barfly to hear the night's entertainment. Stood outside, I enjoyed the last few tokes on my rolley before an available break and asked a staff member (tall guy who always wears a hat, local peeps will know who I'm talking about) what main act The Dykeenies were like. He wasn't sure who they were or what their sound was about but assured me that the opening act The Strand were definitely worth seeing. Unsure what that night's entertainment was going to provide I ventured down the tight winding stair case to the unmistakably low-roofed bar to find my position on the dance floor. This didn't prove to be difficult as there was somewhat of a sparse crowd - virtually no one near the front so I took my place there.

Local unsigned band 'The Strand' took to the stage with energy that you'd expect from a young four piece. The small stage soon became tightly packed with group members - including people filling the floor space in front them- as the opening chords of their first track blasted through the resident speakers. The lead vocalist's (James Walker) proud voice, akin to an early Bowie, greatly accompanied the melodic rock-based rhythms of his fellow band mates. Their sound similar to that of somewhat underrated group Supergrass and much-hyped extinct band, The Libertines. Unsurprising I suppose as according to their myspace page The Strand draw influences from modern acts such as Supergrass and veteran bands like The Clash. Although nothing sounds incredibly new, most groups rarely do in the 21st century, they are an act worth going to see, and more importantly hear.

A sweet mix of catchy pop-punk riffs and lyrics that tell of modern love and singledom in everyday life, give The Strand much promise. Joy was had watching them bump around themselves almost catching guitar necks in the hype of frenzied playing. I can't wait to catch these guys in Cardiff again and hope that music lovers from places outside of Wales get to see them play live because, people, you won't be disappointed.

Enter The Dykeenies. As mentioned previously I'd heard little about them, other than my research, but the group have gained much notoriety in their native Scotland and also previously supported 'art-rock' group The Mystery Jets, among others. Described as a hybrid of Panic At The Disco! and The Killers, I would agree with reference to the latter, as the use of synths in their tunes pays homage to such acts. Unfortunately they are not nearly as good. Lead singer, Brian Henderson, has much presence on stage, but unlike the earlier act's lead vocalist his attitude was conceited, and not deservedly so. Apart from memorable 'Clean Up Your Eyes' (released on single July 9th) I found the set mediocre at best.

Absolutely nothing new here with melodies and lyrics not grabbing people's attention, the 'crowd' reflected this. Movement, created by people in the audience was limited throughout their set with practically no one near the front, or centre, dance floor. Brian's voice in songs is very "South-of-England"(a comment I'm sure he would hate) and is in stark contrast to his very Scottish accent, notable when addressing supporters in-between songs.

They didn't sound bad live but having subsequently heard them on record I would give future live performances a miss. If they could differentiate their music a bit more, so they didn't sound like a lacklustre version of The Killers, things could improve. Although I'm sure stardom will beckon, as people do tend to jump on the new wave bandwagon, regardless of talent.