The Hat Factory. Probably the most overlooked and underrated music venue in the Beds, Herts and Bucks region. As I headed over there two Fridays ago I had a feeling it would be a great gig. Firstly because DTA promotions were running the show (and I’ve never been to a bad gig with them) and secondly because I know the venue well; I’ve played enough acoustic sets there to know that the staff are lush and the acoustics are not half bad.
Gigs are primarily held in The Basement. Yes, you heard right. A basement. Minus the coffins and corpse like creatures, well, the latter is debatable I guess. As I headed down there I could feel a slight anticipation in the air. Partly because this gig had been hyped up for weeks, and partly because I’d also had a lot of coffee that day (you can’t study a degree without it, trust me).
Doors usually open around 8ish, and I have to say, the room started getting packed pretty quickly. To be fair, this music venue, and this room in particular is not the largest. But this is what makes it so great. No matter where I stand, whether it’s right at the front, or in the deepest, darkest, crevice - like corner, it feels like I'm watching the bands from my front room. Albeit, without my comfy sofa and my dressing gown on.
Cue Captain Dread. A pretty sweet band from Bedfordshire that kicked the crowd off to an incredibly strong start. I probably say this in every review that I write, but the first band do have an awful lot riding on their set; they set the tone for the rest of the evening and these guys certainly managed to do that just fine. With songs like Hurdy Gurdy and Captain D read, their sound is quite different from the generic picture people usually create with metal, especially the guitar intro to Simon Poons. Certainly a good opening set, and most definitely a band to watch.
Swiftly following these guys were Ascension. Once more hailing from my own beautiful county of Bedfordshire. At one point during their set they broke into a metal version of Everybody Dance Now. I have heard many covers done by metal bands over the years, but never a dance track. This absolutely made my day, I actually turned to the person standing next to me (I never did get your name, lovely to meet you) in awe, and said how awesome that cover was. With bass lines to die for, an awesome vocalist, and a sound that made me want to stick them on repeat, you would be stark raving loony if you didn't get on to their facebook page and like them straight away.
Our penultimate band were Hitchin lads Brave The Moment. Their set was mind blowingly good. Apparently this was their first gig with their current line up and you would not have thought it in the slightest. Their lead guitarist was wonderful to watch play (also very easy on the eye) and their vocalist rocked harder than a geologists convention on crack. It is a lot harder to scream than people realise, and I was genuinely impressed. In fact, I was nodding my head so forcefully in time to the beat that I’m pretty sure at one point I got whiplash, that was how freakishly addictive they were. I predict these guys will be playing at much bigger venues within the next few years, and you will kick yourself if you don’t go to one.
And for the finale were Fall Against Fate. It was an absolute treat to see these guys perform for the first time, after having interviewed them a couple of months back. (The interview is on here, if you want to read about the pillow fights in their underwear!) Walking on to a dimly lit stage, to an incredibly entrancing and hypnotic accompaniment, built an incredibly climatic atmosphere. At this point I was standing pretty close to the front of the stage, so decided to safely retreat to a corner somewhere as I saw several guys, much larger than me, muscle their way to the front of the crowd. This meant only one thing, and the last time I was in a mosh pit, some evil so and so almost broke my nose. I was not having a repeat of that, because casualties, no matter how minor, seriously affect your ability to watch a band play.
Fall Against Fate’s entire set was everything I would expect from such dedicated and talented musicians, and more. Their ability to mix the most beautiful, melodic sounds in with killer riffs and strong bass lines is something you do not get from your average mainstream band. Their stage presence, and ability to pump a crowd, is something you would expect to see in bands who have been performing for much longer than a few months. I strongly recommend you go and see them, whether it’s at a local venue now, or a massive arena in years to come. These guys are going places, and are making metal accessible to everyone, everywhere.
I always judge how good a gig is by how much I need to go out and smoke during a bands set. I didn’t have to go out all night (apart from between bands) so kudos to you all. I was wonderfully impressed.
So if you think any of the above bands sound like your cup of tea, then head on over to their myspace pages. The links are here for you so you don’t even have to do any of the hard work. If you really like what you hear, then add them on facebook, and if you don’t trust my opinion (tut tut) then head on down to one of their gigs yourself, and make up your own mind. Metal is making a massive comeback, so you can either sit on the sidelines and wave as it passes you by, or jump on up and try crowd surfing. I hear it’s fun.