In the Crowd: The Garage: Highbury’s darkest secret
The Garage: Highbury's darkest secret.
So, this is the Garage…Dark as the night, the floor wrestles for possession of the soles of your shoes, everything is pared down to a minimum of facilities; the odd chair here, a table in the corner, the world's most evil and dangerous toilets. But it's not comfort that we are here for, nor is it drinks, which follow Highbury trends of draining the shrapnel from the depths of your pocket with a modicum of ease.
So what is it then, that makes this pit such an iconic venue? Such a place that is revered amongst its contemporaries; a virtual goldmine to the unsigned band, and a place to rediscover a band's sound for those used to more glamorous occasions. Yes, the sound is exceptional, of course; there isn't just a lonely amber spot blinding the band. The sound guys actually know their shit, and will listen to how you want to sound and get it right.
But above all this, there is something that goes back further than the new sound system, the non-slip floor and the expensive beer. The Garage is something special, it has been doing what it does for a long time now, and there is a legacy of bands that have made their mark, broken their guitars on the stage, vomited in the dressing room and played their heart out to a 500 strong crowd, sweating in the inky black beyond the blazing lights. This is the place that has seen bands such as Radiohead, Placebo and Spiritualized cut their teeth on the London gig circuit, and is somewhere that continues to attract international listings as well as being a springboard for new talent.
Being the venue of choice for numerous international rock and indie acts such as Rocket from the Crypt and The Offspring's secret shows, the Garage has established itself as one of London's leading indie venues.
Now hosting various club nights as well as live shows, we see iconic DJs such as Steve Lamacq gracing The Garage to offer his take on Punk Rock Karaoke. The Garage is more than a venue, more than a club; there's no point in getting het up about the rank deposits that litter the floor, and the crazed, sweating beast next to you. As a venue that for over ten years has provided London with new and exciting music, it must go down in history with the CBGBs of this world.
My Sad Captains.
So here I am, in The Garage, anticipating one of the many unsigned bands of London to step onto the stage here in Highbury. My Sad Captains come on stage in front of a mixed crowd of regulars and newcomers.
My Sad Captains are a local, unsigned band from London, tinged with the glow of Americana. Having formed in January of last year, the quartet has been juggling studies with frequenting the gig circuit. Now that all members, Ed Wallis (guitars and vocals), Nick Goss (sampler, Melodica and guitars), Jack Swayne (bass) and Jim Wallis have found themselves firmly rooted in London, progress is being made and, as Jack informs me, they have a new demo, produced by Chris Sheldon of Biffy Clyro fame.
Opening to a loyal fanbase's cheers, Ed sidles to the microphone and mutters a greeting to the crowd. Not wishing to be part of the new ‘New Wave' revival that bounds through the halls of London's music scene, My Sad Captains choose other inspiration for their ‘Yank-centric' sound. Finding their place amongst the melodic low-fi sound of bands such as Grandaddy and Pavement, and blending this with the more outlandish electronic sound of Four Tet and The Postal Service, the Captains bring us an individual sound that seems not to praise angular hair cuts and impotence-inducing tight jeans. Instead we see a set of values that produces, as frontman Ed neatly puts, "interesting melodic songs which can hold people's interest."
With a medley of songs from their new demo, Ed glowers into the crowd as ‘All Hat and No Plans' is woven delicately into ‘Curtain Call'. Blending rock with synth fiddlery and even a melodica, My Sad Captains put together a melodic sound speckled with child-like quirks and the burbles of silicon exemplified in the bitter-tinged ‘Hide and Seek.' Riding on Jim's resourceful and airtight drumming, the band put together an impressive set, culminating in the military drumming and subtle trumpets of ‘Building Blocks' followed by the twinkling melancholia of ‘Change of Scenery.' Not just another band doing the rounds in London, My Sad Captains actually sound like they have something different to say, and don't find themselves dazzled by fashionista idiocy or wanting to be Pete Doherty.
My Sad Captains have made their mark in the accolades of ‘The Garage', and are currently on the gig circuit in London. They support the Broken Family Band in January at ‘The Water Rats.' You can also learn more about them from their website www.mysadcaptains.com. The Garage's website can be accessed via www.meanfiddler.com .
- Oli Spall | 2005-11-21
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