Fastlane

support Short Warning + Cousin Luke + Kneehigh + Dave House + Get Cape.
author PP date 11/09/05 venue The Windmill, London, UK

My second time at the Windmill pub in Brixton, one of the sketchiest areas of London. It's strange to walk 10 minutes from the nearest tube station to a place that from the outside, quite frankly, resembles more of a place where the local bums would hang out. Those familiar to places like The Moose in Copenhagen can relate to the inner decor, which should be considered ghetto even at its best. The stage is a small corner that barely fits four guys and a drum set on it, but the atmosphere is unmatchable to any of the other venues in all of London. The amount of intimacy and passion between the bands and the fans is indescribable in a venue too small to fit the needs of a high school class consisting more than forty people. The moment I walked in I immediately spotted Fastlane sitting on one table, Cousin Luke on another and the guys from Kneehigh hanging around the bar area speaking to their fans as if they had never even been in bands. This wouldn't be so special if it was mediocre bands we're talking about, but it's not. It?s Kneehigh, Englands response to Moneen, Copeland and Mae, and it's Fastlane, currently holding tight to the throne of one of the best pop punk albums since, well, since Billie Joe Armstrong sang those famous lines "Do you have the time / to listen to me whine".

Short Warning

Anyway, lets get to the point already. Short Warning had already started their set once we arrived to The Windmill. The (lack of, there were roughly 10-15 people watching them) audience was treated to a sound combining the melodic elements of Snuff with the pop punk elements of pre-Dookie Green Day - a sound that's like a rough diamond still needing lots of work to be perfect, but yet it preshadows the possible greatness to come. Unfortunately, the only thing blasting clearly out of the speakers were the guitars and the bass. The drums sounded like they had been played from the pub next door, faded out like those distant stars in the sky you really have to stretch your eyes to see at all. There's lots of potential in these guys though, and it was a good start for the night.

6

Cousin Luke

Cousin Luke followed Short Warning after a short break (Dan :D), and their raw, energetic punk rock was a lot closer to my heart than Short Warning's somewhat uninspiring pop punk set. Here's where the difference between good and great bands lies. You can always go out and watch a good band perform live and enjoy it, but you won't remember it a few days after. Cousin Luke, consisting of only three members, jumped around like madmen during their set. Still, they weren't able to make it into the great bands category tonight. Their set ranged from slower, more anthemic songs, similar to Allister's slower songs, into faster, garage-ish songs, comparable to those of the early Mxpx sound. Overall, Cousin Luke performed a good set with the occasional great songs that got my mind off of my pint of Kronenburg for more than a few minutes

6

Kneehigh

Kneehigh, on the other hand, were better heaps better than any of the other bands on display before them. It's next to impossible to classify them into one genre only, when they sound like Mae, Moneen, Copeland, The Early November, and god knows who else at the same time. Slowly but surely, the crowd fell in love with their awe-inspiring indie rock intros to their songs, which were only to be followed by sudden outbreaks of noise when you least expected it, in the best Bear Vs Shark style. Everything in their set was near perfection: The explosive Mae-esque showmanship during breakdowns from acoustic to full scale distortion brought cold shivers to the audience, the sound was perfectly clear, and the vocals were smooth and, at the same time, piercing and pain-reflecting. A great performance by Kneehigh.

9

Dave House

After Kneehigh's awesome performance, Dave House's solo acoustic act seemed boring and directionless. To be completely honest, I've never been a big fan of acoustic acts, let alone solo acts. The single acoustic guitar just doesn't give out enough noise to keep me interested, but I suppose it's a simple matter of taste, because the crowd loved Dave House to death. Surprisingly many people knew the lyrics and they were sung out loud and clear, and Dave was able to leave the singing duties to the crowd during most choruses, that sounded like a mixture of Dashboard Confessional and Something Corporate at their cheesiest moments. What the crowd saw in him, I don't know, because I was bored as heck throughout his set. I?m sorry, but I have never liked acoustic acts.

3

Get Cape.

Despite my dislike of Acoustic acts, I was excited to hear Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, as I'd read tonnes of reviews of his debut praising him to be the most innovative acoustic act of the last decade or so. Usually, Sam performs alone with his acoustic guitar complemented by his laptop providing an electronic drumbeat, but today he was joined on stage by a trumpeter and the "birthday boy Mike" who seemed to be on stage during every single act tonight, wondering around with his miniature guitar model for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, the addition of these two guys made the set so much more interesting compared to Dave House, and I must admit I actually really liked a few of Get Cape's stronger songs tonight. Showmanship-wise, Sam delivered a passionate set that was loved by most of the crowd.

6
.

Fastlane

And then it was Fastlane's turn to enter the stage, and the pub detonated. "Dreaming"'s guitar intro bursted through the speakers, and it didn't matter even though the sound was kind of shit during the first song. The band was, simply put, amazing despite the early sound problems. They could barely fit on the stage all five, but yet they seemed to be all over the place all the time. By "Comfortable Silence", not only the sound had improved, but it was clear that everyone here had come to see Fastlane, and Fastlane only. The crowd jumped up and down, moshed, screamed along and was having the best time right from the start.

The beauty of the Windmill pub's stage is that it?s not really a stage at all. There are no crowd barriers, no arrogant security guards ready to knock you over for the slightest excuse and no constant worries over crowd surfers kicking you into your head. Before to date, Fastlane has performed on stages as big as the Astoria in London, but that didn?t seem to matter. To see Ben stretch into the crowd during the set all the time was the perfect evidence that Fastlane loves to get their music heard even at the smallest, most remote venues. The passion onstage provided the evidence for this: Ben was squeezing the microphone with a grip tighter than what Bullet For My Valentine's Matt has.

The night was crowned by a ridiculously good performance of "Virus", a track they usually don't play live due to the different tuning needed to play the song. The crowd went absolutely mental, and The Windmill is lucky that it's still standing after Fastlane's show. Several people had attended more than one Fastlane show before, and I heard all of them say that this was the best one they'd seen by far. Whether or not this was because of the intimacy originating from the size of the venue, or the fact that Fastlane were just absolutely amazing tonight, I can't judge. But one thing's for sure, everyone had a hell of a good time tonight. This performance went straight into my top3 gigs of all time.

10

Fastlane Setlist:

  • 1. Dreaming
  • 2. Elevator
  • 3. Comfortable Silence
  • 4. Summer Falls
  • 5. Third Degree
  • 6. Eyes Closed
  • 7. Forget What We Were
  • 8. A New Start
  • 9. When Its Over
  • 10. Virus

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