Innerpartysystem, Caesars Rome, Echolounge

Edmund Townend 30/06/2008

Dark, broody and electric is the general feeling on stage at Barfly for innerpartysystem's fearsome sound and their supports match their energy and mood.

Echolounge simmer through deep noise and pulsing electronica to unleash melodramatic cries from among slow and infinite loops. Looming bass and intricate sampling builds atmospherically to break away into nothingness leaving the listener frustrated before leaping back into a sonic explosion. Although the lyrics leave something to be desired, the mood certainly shifts through the minds of the audience. Drawing on many modern songwriting influences such as Radiohead and Massive Attack but with a distinctive electro-rock feel similar to that of 80s pioneers Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk. Let them simmer a bit more in the electronica darkness before they really unleash a fantastic fusion of sounds through their songwriting.

Whilst Echolounge certainly fitted the bill through sound, Caesars Rome's allocation was similar to the main act's hype. Supported by local press and bands including top Welsh act Funeral for a Friend they obviously caught the eye of innerpartysystem from afar. Their sound certainly is in the ranks of such bands, with an incredibly pure voice from their front man. Markedly Welsh music for a reason I can't put my finger on, the swelling sound of voice and drums make their performance controlled yet volatile. Along with clever songwriting, their energetic presence bring a smile to the viewer and despite the small stage, they shake the venue. With a mix of brilliant guitar attack then long sustained sounds, there is no need for a synth to create an atmosphere. Despite the power of the guitar, it's not uncontrolled. No chaotically mashed sounds - just perfected riffs. Caesars Rome are a challenging band to identify for just one audience, they're the perfect sound for both guitar-loving Oasis fans and those who might slink into the back row to appreciate the undertones similar to darker experimental Tool and Nine Inch Nails sounds.

Innerpartysystem seem to want to keep their show music based. They keep their lighting bright and filling the stage with no theatrics whatsoever. They walk on and start hammering away at guitars, drums and an array for synthesisers. It would take easy distraction to sway these crafters of technology away from precision-based music. They fire away at their sound with an intense energy but still keeping every note perfect. Portishead precision at a hundred miles per hour. The pulsing distorting whirring bass of the lashed synthesiser's keys Described as a darker Panic! At The Disco with their synthetic sound and edgy cut-glass lyrics with Panic's grown up fans in following. Despite the nu-rave torture that has been Klaxons and others in the past few years, America seems unburdened by this mould and Pennsylvania's innerpartysystem. The happy-go-lucky synthy pop so commonly associated with some new American acts is lost in the industrial-inspired grime of the angry growl to scream voice of their lead. Despite the striking a chord with rave fanatics by implementing 'party' in their name, innerpartysystem actually refers to Orwell's 1984 (that's right - the 'Big Brother' book). The band say about the name “In '1984' social classes were defined as the Innerparty, Outerparty, and the working class…we're really not this full of ourselves, but we liked the idea of creating this full, multimedia, over-stimulating, elitist environment that we were trying to invite everyone into. It's the ironic elitist class.” However, they still have time for the obvious dance-floor “just a concept” of 'The Way We Move'. The band's recorded sound is far less fierce than their live sound. The robotic vocoder backing vocals are far harsher in their live show than on record and similar to Foals' 'Antidotes' it doesn't drive fans away. Their frenetic energy seems to be confined to the small stage, but it becomes increasingly easier to see that their confined positions hunched over keyboards are down to the concentration of blasting all their synth and samples out live. There are no laptops playing a backing track, every single note is punched out by the band's fingers. With their final push of latest single 'Don't Stop' they scream out hatred for the celebrity in an almost Marilyn Manson fashion, but without the macabre fancy dress and just dirty, staining attack on the ears and body from the ceiling-shaking sound. Everyone rushes forward to meet the outstretched arms of the band (sitting down on the stage seems to be the best option, leaving me unscathed) and innerpartysystem declare that this is one of the best gigs they've ever played, thanking the crowd by passing their sweat around at the end of the show - and there certainly was a lot of it.

Photos by Stellar Spontaneous Photography