Maps, Jeremy Warmsley, Boypatient

Angus Reid 13/10/2007

I have to say, the expansion of the Barfly empire to Brighton bothered me a little bit at first, and I was pretty dubious as to what this place was going to be like. I am a fool for this, since it's a fantastic little place with multiple levels, good sound and a fairy lights / red cloth combo that makes it feel like being inside some kind of deep sea jellyfish. This is a good thing, by the way.

So, arriving shortly after doors open, we're amazed to see a band actually going on stage. What kind of devilry is this? A band? Onstage before nine? Just what kind of gig venue is this, with bands running on time and everything? Even more encouraging than that is the huge number of pedals by the guitarist's feet. I suspect that Boypatient are going to be shoegaze, but no. All braces and tucked in shirts, they are in fact more like the Smiths with tiny crystaline fragments of shimmering guitar every now and then. By the end of a half hour set, this formula varies a little bit, and I find myself wanting to scream at the bassist to just play one note for a bit, but nevertheless, with a bit more variety, this lot would actually be something worth keeping an eye on.

After emptying the stage of all equipment, Jeremy Warmsley steps up. I'll confess at this point that he's actually who I'm here to see, despite the obvious appeal of the headliners. Armed with just an acoustic guitar or a piano through out, Warmsley avoids most of the material from his debut album, and instead focuses on a more stripped down approach, which is something that works to heart aching brilliance when the crowd is on board. Sadly, the crowd continue to chat loudly throughout, and as good as the sound may be, this interferes with songs somewhat. Nevertheless, the two tracks from his album are met with a more enthusiastic response, and once people are paying attention Warmsley really can soar at times, with a seemingly endless lung capacity and range to match. He has the potential to be the UK's answer to Sufjan Stevens, and one can only hope that he's won over enough of the people present here tonight to really build on this. It's only as he finishes his set that it occurs to me what an odd combination Jeremy Warmsley and Maps on a tour together is - a singer-songwriter alongside stargazing wig-outs.

Another hyper-quick changeover and here come those very wig-outs, and with the aid of a video projector the jellyfish innards of the Barfly suddenly feel like a ride through deep space. The sparse lighting doesn't really need to do anything to make it feel like a huge show in what is a fairly small venue. Maps arrive with a fuzzing keyboard howl that morphs into some vague semblance of a song, with perfectly pitched My Bloody Valentine style hushed vocal harmonies gliding effortlessly over a heady broth of guitar and keyboard soup. The similarities to My Bloody Valentine don't end there either, as the sound is quite fantastically loud, bass rattling the ribcages of everyone within a 50ft radius of the stage. Of course, the point of this music is to be all-enveloping, to wrap you up inside its world and take you on a journey. As song after song smashes through the speakers and into your skull, that's exactly what it does, with trippy videos completing the picture, making it one of the most involving gigs I've been to in as long as I can remember.

After a while though, a thought begins to nag me. I'm seeing all the people around me dancing madly, and the combination of electronic and live drums still hammers away, and suddenly, through no fault of Maps, I'm reminded of Moby. I can't shake this feeling either. Each song is much like the last, and each has the distinct feeling of Moby about it. I'm not on a spaceship anymore, I'm in the driver's seat of a Lexus, I'm buying home insurance, I'm changing mobile phone operators. I think some variety is what's called for here and quickly, but that's exactly what I'm not going to get. It's a descent into a marketing exec's wet dream.

An interesting night all told, and all three acts display brilliance at times, two of them spoil this a little by sticking to their formula for too long afterwards. Overall though, both venue and bands make it well worth the trip down from London and well worth seeing should you get the chance.