Review: Elevant @ Buffalo Bar
Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
Saturday 11th July 2015
Already causing a stir in the alternative scene, Elevant are kicking off their third self-promoted tour in support of their upcoming third yet-to-be-released-but-ready-to-be-cut self-released album.
And they start off with their first ever show (and visit) in Wales, playing the Buffalo Bar in Cardiff due to a quick venue change, as they were initially booked to play Newport's Le Pub, but unfortunately they had to relocate due to cancellation. Doesn't matter though, the music is still very much alive and Elevanting the band with each performance.
Originally formed as a recording project, they Eleventually became a touring and recording band self-promoting through lead guitarist/vocalist/Elevantrepeneur Michael Edward, joined respectively with drum and bass duties by Tom Shand and Hannah Lodge. Here they are joined by Them Dead Beats for the Cardiff show, and touring support Wicked Snakes.
"Cool and raw like a defrosted steak..."
A small crowd in a small venue, this is the first of many free shows at Buffalo and what an opener it will be. Them Dead Beats arrive fashionably late as the drummer only arrived back in Cardiff two hours prior from Magaluf, replete in Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses. They rip into a half-hour set of pumping garage blues rock with enough swagger and stomp to get the thin crowd bopping along, shouting and enjoying their music with dirty riffage and tub-thumping drummage. Certainly not ones to shy from their chosen medium, this is fast and sharp fun, cool and raw like a defrosted steak. Maybe some delay or reverb on the vocals would add some extra spice to their tracks, but this is a minor side note on their sound. We are in for a good evening.
Next up, Wicked Snakes thicken up the sonic atmosphere with superb drones and deep heavy riffs. The crowd is slightly bigger now and the music takes a noticeably darker turn from the opening act. The guitarist cleverly plays with various effects and processors creating a larger sound for his six string madness, and the drums go from slow Sabbath-esque beats to dreamy blast beats and the bass rattling along with tight grooves.
"A real sludge groove vibe..."
The vocalist caresses and gyrates around the mic stand with feverish intent, but it's a shame that the vocals seem lost in the mix, only seeming to carry right at the back of the venue. A damn shame considering the music sounds great, it would've been better to hear the singer, possible small venue problems and/or sound issues and one that should've been remedied on the night. The performance from the band is still awesome and they play on. A real sludge groove vibe, Soundgarden in sound and Misfits in performance, they play through a decent seven-song strong setlist.
By the time Elevant take the stage they've had to make up their setlist at the last minute, with Michael telling me they'd had to cut it short due to the schedule being pressed for time! Doesn't matter, they still have time to throw some new songs out along with a few from their first two albums. It opens with two new songs Only Falling Apart and Audience and by this time their audience has grown into a decent size.
"The music snakes around like a giant halcyon train..."
The cool sound of their QOTSA spiced psych-rock infuses the dry-iced air with a sound of fast cars and neon signs. Michael is seemingly in his element, roaring around the mic and stepping to the front with a steely hypnotic stare at the crowd, pushing his guitar out and making it scream. He talks to the crowd, thanking them for the show and keeping them dancing as the music snakes around like a giant halcyon train.
They go into a few tracks from their second album Dreamface next, with album opener Open Heart Surgery beating the venue walls, and Nothing and Damage showcasing some cool solo spots for Hannah and Tom. This music is accessible, it's diverse and it's good. Live, it becomes another beast, one altogether more energetic and enjoyable as the band take us on their sonic journey.
Further tracks Stress, Mood Manipulator and In Ourselves We Trust come from their second album again and keep the music moving along with their varied tonal mingling, and they wrap the set with two tracks appearing back-to-back from their first LP, Apple Of Your Eye and Living At Night, blasting out the desert rock all the way through to the screeching outro guitar gymnastics.
The band have enjoyed themselves, evidenced by the crowd reaction and the smiles all round. We were treated to this gig for free and it was definitely a great show. Some minor sound issues could've made it better but it cannot detract too much from the event. It was a shame the crowd wasn't bigger as the cancellation in Newport has caused the show to be promoted in a short space of time, so word hadn't travelled far, but the crowd that was there certainly enjoyed the music.
Them Dead Beats kicked it off with a dirty bang, Wicked Snakes darkened it with awesome doomy soundscapes and Elevant wrapped it nicely with psych-drenched variable rock. Well worth catching on their future dates, look out for their future shows, look out for the sound of stampeding Elevant!
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