Vox Von Braun and Olivier – Qbus, Leiden 24/09/11

The ringing choruses and beautiful counterpoints that Vox served up on these new tracks had us drooling.

 

It had been a long day. Fresh from the Rats on Rafts LP release party (Rats were God-like incidentally, I might review it, but aren’t people getting bored with me writing about them?), we were back in good old Leiden to watch the brilliant Vox Von Braun run through a set for the “Broedplaats Sessies”. Broedplaats is a local radio show that I have a little to do with (I turn up and play annoying records) and the sessions are there to record bands in action so to speak.

The only sad thing to these gigs is that the db level is 98, and that means the sound has to be carefully balanced. At times an act’s enthusiasm for rocking out can get in the way of this strict policy but Vox are a laid back and experienced bunch who take and these things in their stride. Given the low-key nature of the event, and given initial fears that no-one would show on such a glorious Indian Summer day, Incendiary was pleasantly surprised to see a decent turn out: Qbus is a bit out of the way and the sessions have been promoted as sessions not full-blown gigs which we feel has contributed to Leidenaars missing out on this initiative.

On to the music. Support was provided by Olivier a singer songwriter from Leiden whose main strength was his strident and flexible vocal range. It was standard fare musically though , nothing really caught us and sometimes his vibe was a bit too meandering; but he did have a couple of tricks up his sleeve. A couple of numbers were sung in Portuguese (I think it was Portuguese  as he had another song about the merits of Porto and Lisbon) which was charming, and there a couple of minor and sadly short excursions into Jeff Buckley territory. So, it was okay music, just in the wrong setting, as the audience wasn’t in the mood to hear a guitar and a voice and a noisy flock near the bar chattered throughout. There were attempts to shush the slightly merry crowd down but to no avail.  

Then Vox, who had, just before the show, told me that they thought their new LP was “weird”. Why, they didn’t explain.  Vox aren’t weird on stage anyways. They make very beautiful music. The band has a smoky, lush vibe and the dual guitar attack seems (certainly after this showing) to get stronger and stronger. Somehow, given their music’s richness and reliance on a mid-tone wall of sound they also have a knack of delivering a very clean and ringing sonic framework. The rhythm section – on a leash here, contented itself in smouldering away quietly, always menacing the audience with threats of breaking out in Julia and Lord of Pesetas.

Oh, and the new songs weren’t weird at all, rather they were a further, more intense exploration of that old holy grail for many guitar bands – how to out-Revolver  Revolver. The ringing choruses and beautiful counterpoints that Vox served up on these new tracks had us drooling. Their new stuff sounded clear as a bell, and there was a feeling of more purpose and confidence driving the tracks, or maybe just an exploration of wider horizons. The gig ended with a howling display of feedback and - amid lots of pedal trickery - a beautifully rich and flaming finish was achieved. Quietly triumphant.          

After this Incendary was accosted by a strident lady who didn’t like the post-gig music Incendiarywere Deejaying with and demanded that we looked for rarer grooves laying down the threat “play something we can dance to or we go somewhere else”. The irony of the request – given that she and her friend were, by this stage two of four people left in the room, one of which was me, the other the bar tender – was lost on her. She even flared her nostrils menacingly. Drastic times called for drastic measures and I can now testify to the utter room-clearing power of The Faust Tapes. Try it.