Chapel Club, Pulled Apart By Horses

Modesty Blaise & Stephen Potter 25/09/2010

Time to bust out your upturned chinos and plimsolls, because it's underground weekend! If you like your New Era caps flat and your check shirts buttoned all the way too the throat this is truly your sort of festival and in no way do I mean that in a derogatory sense.

The line up itself consisted of a exciting and fresh mixture of local heroes and also some more established acts, including Chapel Club and the furious Pulled Apart by Horses. There were 3 stages, or 1 stage and 2 rooms to be precise. The first of the two rooms was arguably the most atmospheric, looking like state rooms from a 17th century mansion, garnished with exquisite wood finishing and creepy vintage paintings of regal looking individuals.

However, this room or 'The Cinema Stage' as it was so aptly named due to the Guildhall housing its own cinema was the perfect setting for some of the more intimate and delicate acts of the weekend with its atmospheric and somewhat ghostly vibe.

The Risk & Consequence stage was a little room decorated with portraits of the general public for an arty photography project. Men Diamler was up to his usual creative antics, making the most of the space and the people filling it by improvising songs about the unsuspecting audience. Tubelord's set was a subdued, whispery affair, which for those of you that have seen them before does indeed sound odd. Their vocal harmonies carried the performance through sounding delicate and choir like despite Joe's silence.

Bristol based art-rockers The Naturals impressed on the Main Stage with their delicate opening riffs and heart pounding endings. This West Country four-piece sound like Editors injected with a healthy dose of fury and immediacy. The band themselves looked nervous and awkward, far from your standard Art Rock hipster and their onstage banter induced some tumbleweed moment but to be honest it was refreshing, because this is a band that make kick-ass music and don't make you feel ill-informed about this weeks trendiest whatever.

Sarah Howells of Paper Airplanes successfully made every male in the room turn into a useless wreck of adolescent admiration with her dreamy lullaby primed voice. She's as delicate as rose made from china and her vulnerable lyrics of love and loss will leave you with a major case of the lovelies.

Saturday night brought the buzzing Egyptian Hip Hop who delivered a tranquil, joyous Indie experience. Sounding like they should be playing to an audience of funk loving extra terrestrials Egyptian Hip Hop are making the most of synth heavy Alterna-Pop with accompanying seductive vocals. Insanely catchy Future Pop for space age dreamers.

More excellent Rock Dance came from ones to watch, Wilder. Their impossibly catchy melodies had even the moodiest of scenester bobbing their perfectly quiffed hair. Twinkling layered guitar work fortified with oozing synths and pounding drums are guaranteed to make you throw your best Indie dance shapes. Wilder are one of those bands where it's virtually impossible to stay still during their set, whole lot of fun.

Lunar Youth were another Saturday highlight with their big amounts of sex appeal, not the kind that is all up in your face with hideously corny gifts and clichéd sweet nothings but the kind that takes you to watch a French film that no one's ever heard of and looks like Clark Gable. Their heavily 80s influenced style of soft-rock schmoozes it's way into your ears with an effortlessly cool swagger. It's pretty much what James Dean would be if he was a band.

Something for music fans of a more furious disposition now, a band called Brontide. Now when I was doing some research about this band the definition of Brontide popped up and apparently it's “a sound like distant thunder, caused by seismic activity”. Literally the best description of this bands sound I can think of. Gargantuan riffs and spleen rupturing drumbeats smash their way into to your eardrums in a glorious cavalcade of absolute chaos rock. They had some sweet-ass merch, too.

Sun Drums, from Liverpool who have been picked-up by BBC introducing took the crowd to an almost Zen-like place with their otherworldly, haunting Electronica. The 3 members swapped instruments and vocal duties throughout the set adding new dimensions to each song. It's borderline Electronica chill-out and you can't help being captivated by their tranquil tunes.

Now to get a bit filthy with Japanese Voyeurs, excellent name by the way. This is the sort of Grunge Metal that's so dirty you feel like you have to scrub down with a Brillo pad afterward. Crushing riffs, snarly vocals, it's probably some of the best grunge I've heard. Miss Lead Vocals sang with such veracious spite at some points I swore I almost saw some venom fly from her lips. The kind of girl you're Mum would hate but I just loved her, total babe.

Other highlights included Ute, with their unique brand of Fury Folk. This quirky bunch of three have cleverly crafted Folk with furious beat downs, mega-phone assisted vocals (that actually mirror Deftones at points) and some wildly elaborate tales of murderous, cursed suits. This is folk for those folk who prefer Slayer vests to button down cheques.

ISLET… possibly one of the strangest things I have ever witnessed, in the setting of the Cinema Stage a bunch of odd ball art student types running around like deranged toddlers in a sweet shop; beating drums and making various, curious noises with microphones. As experimental as Einstein's laboratory and as unfathomable as the Rosetta Stone but if you're into shirtless tambourine players then this band is for you.

My only real fail for the weekend was Brother. I am not sure I have ever witnessed such egotistical behaviour from a front man who is heading up a pile of complete and utter average rubbish. Such belligerent rudeness to the audience you would have thought you were listening to some bad ass punk band who are going to destroy all your middle class values but no, nothing revolutionary follows. Then, due to an amp explosion an early exit from the band, not early enough really.

But the two overriding winners of the weekend returned the smile to my mush; Pulled Apart By Horses with their wild performance and ear splittingly glamorous Pop Hardcore and Tall Ships with their melodious, funky, synthy, Indie cocktail was cause for serious sailing away.

Gloucester Underground was an eclectic mix of genuinely decent music played to a small ground of genuinely decent people, the 2 Kopparberg certainly helped oil proceedings! A place to find next year's musical heroes, before everyone else does.