For almost two decades (and with zero thanks to shows like Popstars, Pop Idol, Fame Academy, X Factor and The Voice), the nation’s music-consuming desires have changed. Once, from one of carefully selective, artist obsessed mixtape curators, to speedily disposing of the next manufactured fad almost as soon as they’ve fallen out of ‘popularity’ pretty much overnight. For the general public, it was easier to accept the spoon-feeding nature of reality TV and be gobbled up by the hype vortex they found themselves slowly suffocating into, as opposed to sticking with the little fellas of the homegrown music scenes.
Now that’s not to say we haven’t had successful bands in that time of course. For example, Kasabian released their first self-titled album in 2003, and still only last year, a great new band, The Blossoms were up for the Mercury Prize. However, with what feels like forever in recent years, the pop industry has ruled the charts like an Emperor. The likes of Rhianna, Beyonce, or Taylor Swift proving to have the biggest and best PR & advertising campaigns. Even the ‘out-of-tune-when-live’ Katy Perry still manages to release regular new material. Now of course they are credible artists, but it is a performance over the backdrop of contrived music, mostly written by teams of people in a song writing factory churning out the products of a record label’s success. Don’t get me wrong, I went to some fantastic performances in 2017, but as much as I love going to see legendary acts and some of my life-long favourites; Depeche Mode, U2 and Phil Collins still going strong, I wonder where the new material is that I am so very, very hungry for. Where are the bands that I want to find and who can blow me out of the water like Soulwax did in 1996 with ‘Leave The Story Untold’?
The day Canshaker Pi dropped into to my inbox is a day every music fan dreams of. Not since The Strokes came careering head first out of New York in 2001 have I heard such a sound that was more required at this exact moment in musical time. Throughout the YouTube video for Shaniqua I hear references to Weezer, Pixies and Nirvana; the chords are so perfectly gritty, the bass bounding over the top with such precision, the vocals and harmonies screaming at me “Could it be? Have I found THE band?”. As luck would have it, this perfect little nugget hailing from Amsterdam, were on tour supporting one of my old school favourites, the boys from Wakefield, The Cribs. I had to take myself down there to see for myself if they could be as good live. I prayed to the musical gods…
The moment Canshaker walk out onto the stage the audience had their ears pricked. Being first on the bill usually means playing to a rather empty room, but clearly the band have already started to catch people’s attention. It was the perfect size audience, enough to make an atmosphere but the fact I could walk up to the stage and see their instrumentation and watch the bands dynamics really was something special for a band with such potential.
From opening with what sounded like Beastie Boys, the second song ‘Bicycles’ having a crunchy guitar and the super tight snare drum playing off beat, to the ‘technical errors’ gap that was filled by some very technical bass entertaining us with Bach, these boys really proved they know their stuff. The fact they were an opening band that could keep it together so professionally when things went down was admirable and certainly better than the second band when the same thing happened to them; Dream Wife were a little all over the place and lacked the quality of Canshaker Pi, proving yet again that hype and the number of followers on Facebook and Instagram does not necessarily reflect the quality of the act.
Obviously The Cribs were who everyone was there to see and they certainly did deliver; it’s been a while since I’ve been to a gig with stage diving, pint throwing, stage invasions, i.e. real crowd participation! I must say ULU is a great venue too, fewer than 1000 capacity and perfect acoustics – I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on their upcoming shows.
Only one thing needs to be said about this show and that’s simple: to find a band at this stage in their career who are already so very spot on, is rather rare. In my opinion these boys could (and should be) as big as The Killers, Kings of Leon or Kasabian one day. Quite simply again, if they’re not then I declare it a crime against musical’ humanity.