Grammatics, The Regency Array

Miss Fliss 12/08/2008

When I first heard Grammatics on Myspace, there was just one strong song that won me over, the startling D.I.L.E.M.M.A which is twisted surreal indie drama. But I had a very good notion that the band would be best experienced live where the interplay of drama and the etheriel might thrive.

It turned out to be instinctively true. Best of all, seeing and hearing the cellist (a cellist in a scrubby backroom of a pub!) made the music come into its fully formed own. The nagging melodies sharper, as were the spiky as compasses punctuation of the drums and guitar. D.I.L.E.M.M.A was indeed the highlight, sweeping us up into its harmonics and histrionic arms and creepy cold charms. The tune at work is a cutting quirk of a chorus and sounded blustersomely mighty live.

It comes as no surprise that The Arcade Fire are influences, as they are the band that I would most pinpoint as Grammatics being in the same imaginative brainstorm as. The eerie sprawl, the epic tornadoes, the dark underbelly of the mind all at work.

Grammatics eshew all notions of typical song structuring, with no song following any kind of pattern, what we have are sonic splices falling into one another, melding rather than nodding towards the obvious arrival of a chorus, middle eight or an outro.

Maybe it's this challenging approach that leaves tonight's tiny pocket of Cambridge crowd wary. Everyone but myself and my companion puts a good two or three metre distance between themselves and the lip of the stage. No amount of encouragement from the band can inspire them closer. Spurred on by what might be his second bottle of red wine, singer Owen can clearly take the frustration and hostility no more. He launches his microphone (nearly a bit too close to us at the front!) into the floor a few times, before dragging it up into his clutches and performing his vocal duties from the low level of the pit.

Whirling around, he's a ball of passion and pointedness. The crowd still don't get it. Grammatics cut the show. But it's not tersely, since they are a friendly bunch and ambiably thank the venue again, especially for the lovely food they were surprised at being given by the kindly Portland tonight.

Photo Credit:Gary Wolstenholme