School of Language, Munch Munch, Lonely Ghosts, Shape DJs

Owain Paciuszko 25/06/2008

In the upstairs angular room of Ten Feet Tall with its secluded seating area and I'm-assuming-it's-ironic Vegas-style illumination of the word 'ROCK' the people of Cardiff were treated to two blistering sets of hyperactive, wonky indie electro madness and a set of so-so indie rock. I would begin by commenting upon how great the DJing was but considering I was one of the DJs that might come across as a little egotistical, nevertheless, the other official Shape records DJs (I was drafted in at the last minute) played a perfectly non-mainstream and erratic few sets.

First on were Lonely Ghosts, a twee-indie act from Brighton, who surprised me with the technical whizzes and bangs of their set and a boatload of superb songs; they also had the good impetus to implore the audience to move closer to the stage and not hide behind the invisible eight metre perimeter fence that had mystically erected itself. Bursting with energy and invention Lonely Ghosts squeaked through delightfully noisy pop that at times sounded like 80s power-pop (Happy Lovers / Friends Forever), Modest Mouse and a Nintendo Gameboy. As the musical funnel for the songs created by former-Help She Can't Swim-ster Tom Denney they performed a really exciting and entertaining set, that occasionally fell victim to the kind of sneery-twee that gets on my wick, but for the most part rode along on catchy and unashamed pop songs.

Main support Munch Munch are becoming fairly familiar to the Cardiff live scene and rightfully so, they are an extremely captivating live presence and blast through a patchwork quilt of duelling drums and keyboard led avant-garde electro pop. This is the third time I've seen Munch Munch play since last October and with each new viewing they've gone from strength to strength in humongous strides, their act becoming tighter, their technical prowess taking quatum leaps and the quality of the songs seemingly improving every new time I hear them. Live they evolve their line up, drummers swapping places, swapping with the keyboard and allowing the lead singer a moment of free range and easing one song into another (apart from one hiccup) like the careful mixing of explosive chemicals. There's a huge ammount of energy going into and coming out of their music and its manic, almost cartoon-like at times, imagination is the good kind of infectious. They are a band to watch and watch again.

Shutting things down for the evening were School of Language, the current 'most pressing musical concern of Field Music's David Brewis'. Unfortunately, after the surprise of the evening's openers and the assured wizardry of Munch Munch, they failed to really capture my attention as much and I found their songs drifted in and out of one another with little variation. This was dissapointingly at odds with the experimental quality of some of School of Language's recordings, and live what grabbed the ear played out as a little bland. A dissapointing end to the evening, but not enough to crush the impression made by the first two bands, and, to be fair, there was nothing particularly wrong with what School of Language played it just - in this instance - couldn't compete with the pleasant surprise of Lonely Ghosts and the exuberant experimentation of Munch Munch.

All in all it was a great night put on my Shape and Kruger and the bustling atmosphere upstairs in Ten Feet Tall was perfectly laidback for this evening of eccentric new music.