Feature, Reviews

Stone Cold Jane Austen Presents Tera Melos, Tangled Hair, Shapes, &U&I and Conquistadors Live HMV Institute, Birmingham. June 11th [Live Review]

June 17, 2011
Oli Montez
 Tera Melos, the Sacramento based three piece have built up more than a reputation for themselves in the 7 attentive years their name has been known. The band have been pushing their creativity, rightfully gaining the success they deserve following their formation in 2004; after the disbandment of Nick Reinhart and Nathan Latonas’ former outfit – No Regard. A year of intense rehearsals before the band stepped into the limelight for their live debut must feel like a lifetime ago for the original members. 1 Split, 5 EP’s and 3 Albums later the reputable band are currently signed to Sargent House and have finally embarked on their first UK tour.

 Tera Melos kick started their tour playing the notorious Forbidden Fruits Festival in Dublin, followed by live appearances in London, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham. Saturday 11th June-the half way mark of the Band’s UK leg- The HMV Institute Birmingham opened its doors to the iconic band; or more so Stone Cold Jane Austen (a new Birmingham based promoter) allowed the doors to be opened for what was an incredible night.

 Tera Melos’ headline Birmingham debut coincided with the launch night of SCJA Promotions; and for their first gig night, what a line up!
The night consisted of opening band Conquistadors, of which 2 members make up SCJA Promotions, without them Birmingham is lacking that specific gig night. &U&I, Shapes and Tangled Hair also provided support until Tera Melos took to the stage. Stone Cold Jane Austen was formed by musicians James Sharp and Oz Powles. Co- Founder James recently stated the aim was to bring International-Standard Artists to Birmingham who may otherwise have bypassed the city.

If the rest of their dates are to go by the success of their launch night; Birmingham and music lovers across the Midlands are in for a treat. 

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 Opening the night, and blitzing through a quick firing set in order not to overrun into the next bands time was Circuit Sweet’s recently featured Birmingham based, fun loving, large spirited, melodic math pop 4-piece Conquistadors.  In the short time frame the boys still managed to deliver and convey exactly what they are about and what they’re capable of. It’s always tough being the opening band to any night but this was no fear to the four as Conks managed to immediately set the standard. As the crowd continued to pour into the venue, the compositions connected with all gig goers and drew them into their performance. Replenishing their set with contagious riffs and consistently offering harmonious orchestrations from start to finish. Conquistadors provided a blistering live act. Their sound filling the temple (HMV Institute) with fast paced warmth and amongst the melody still offering a ferocious bite. Their sound spanning a cross of genres highlighting their abilities to fuse collective influences and do it well. This band left a distinctive taste for more.

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 After a quick stage change &U&I then graced our presence. The math rock/ post hardcore band have already gained a solid reputation. Made up of the 3 remaining members of Blakfish (after former Guitarist/Vocalist left whilst touring Europe with Biffy Clyro). Thom Peckett, Richard Lee and Wiz collectively known as &U&I have previously released a 5 track EP titled “Kill the Man that Shot that Man” through the label OnDryLand.
 Again a short time frame to work with but still this proved no issue to the trio.
Their set thrived on the thunderous bass lines throughout; ricocheting around the entire room. Quick blasting tempo changes conflicting the harsh riffs later accompanied with mathy supplements. Versatile Vocalist Thom anchored with his mic, looping his vocals through a Line 6 DL4. Recognized for his post hardcore vocals, Thom carries the ability to change the atmosphere perceived instantly by adjusting his own dynamics; ranging from aggressive and rapacious to a more mellow manor.
As the end of their set rapidly approached Thom announced the last few tracks were exclusive new material; testing familiar waters as the band are set to return to the studio this week to record their forthcoming debut album. The reception they received was the confirmation they’d been hoping for. Angular riffs, finger taps, brutal beats and crashing cymbals culminated into a sea of appreciation.

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 Shapes; the noisy math alternate hardcore trio signed to Big Scary Monsters embraced the stage and with them bought quite a crowd for their hometown show. Consisting of Gavin Filmer, Richard Buckley and Steven Bachelor the band eventually overcame feedback issues to maintain their varying wall of sound carried off by the three. Adding to this their set provided alternate vocals, pelting bass riffs and melodic twists. Each track individually powering off into various tangents. At times their dynamics seemed lost in the house’s low end mix, but the band powered through. If you’re previously familiar with this band  you will enjoy their flustered set, however for first time introductions shapes can at times be hard to follow.
It was just an unfortunate sound issue for the band and I am sure given on any other live performance, their abilities to impress will outshine.

Following Forbidden Fruits Festival, all live dates Tera Melos have played in the UK have been accompanied with support from Tangled Hair. That is until the Birmingham date, the final night supporting the profound experimentalists.
Tangled hair are a 3-piece hailing from Kingston. Consisting of 2/3rds of the math pop band “Colour,” who came to an end in 2009. Vocalist and Guitarist Alan Welsh went on to digress his studio project with drummer James Trood, into a performing band when bassist Alex Lloyd joined.

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They graced the stage and the audience with such carefree diligence. Connecting with every one in the room; with entertaining and open mannerisms. It was refreshing to see a band genuinely psyched for their own time to flaunt what they’re about and, without a doubt following their set; gaining new fans.  
 The trio signed to Big Scary Monsters provide tenor led percussion driven melodic compositions. Each track holds it’s own unique style with ongoing tempo changes, brief hooks and in most cases short and intense bursts of energy.
 Guitarist and Vocalist Alan provides stripped back guitars to accompany his own hush yet rich tone. Alan’s mellow expressions aid the atmosphere Tangled Hair effortlessly deliver.
 They instantly managed to power a certain ambiance to their set, with a minimal yet captivating approach, gradually increasing their layer sound during the intensity they escalate. 
 “Trains are Broken” was welcomed to their set with a pulsating build up followed by an acappella showcase of enriched, repetitive lyrics: “Everyone is sober and I am on my own” coldly conquering the room; such tone provided by Welsh‘s subtle render.

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Bluesy bass lines added a lighter feel by providing a smooth glide to the structure. Throughout their set drummer -Trood- revelled in his duties and obtained a dynamic alliance with his kit. Becoming the most watched member as he elegantly and skilfully provided copious shuffles  and led the abrupt atmospheric tangents.
 A highlight of their extensive presence was found in their track “Forty Winks”  which ambushed all with the fruitiest riffs and frivolous beats. Progressing from a continuing tread into a cycle of contagious rhythmic upheaval and then back into that hypnotic waltz. Familiarizing itself with the charismatic traits their material posses.
Tangled Hair was the missing puzzle piece. The band that filled the void. The trio have taken so many loved influences within their genre and through their own characters have managed to fuse an addictive formation of their own.
If unheard of yet, this is the band that you need to discover. 

 Throughout the entire night, the atmosphere and appreciation for everyone attending the same event truly was invigorating. One of the very few nights where everybody respectfully enjoyed their surroundings, company and of course the music. Every attendee’s mutual love and excitement for the music bouncing from one another. This again reflects how well SCJA achieved their goal.

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The patiently waiting dedicated fans that stood their ground in order not to miss the headlining extraordinaire’ were finally granted the moment they’d been anticipating, as the stage rapidly changed over. Tera Melos arrived.
 A moment of silence fell as Nick Reinhart, Nathan Latona, John Clardy and an additional fourth member (with help from long-time friend) Evan all stood modestly reserved. Turned out nobody was ready for the explosive beginning to their set. The band tore their opener “Kelly” to almighty fucking shreds, blazing their introduction and building upon their sound as their stage time progressed.
 Their set compromised as a showcase to their newer material established in their recent sophomore album; last years Patagonian Rats which was released through La based label Sargent House.
 Bolting through track upon track, building up structures just to demolish the outcome; with abusive shredding, strumming and shifting tempos/timing, the band created a combustive portrayal of chaotically controlled melodic orchestration. 
Playing recognized tracks such as “The Skin Surf” which held such a strong rhythm that all listeners’ united and had no choice but to move themselves with the beat.  Hard hitting kick drum accompanied the up scale riffs. Tweaking effects gathered together to enhance Nick’s wholesome melodic vocals; of which reached higher notes than previous tracks, escalating with the current sheering in-depth sounds resonating throughout.

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Visually, we were all witnessing one of the most energetic and enthusiastic performing live band of our time, in fact it goes without saying that Reinhart is an unrightfully underrated front man. The talent and domination of this musician throughout his work is momentous. Reinhart has to be one of the best front men of this generation through his own abilities. Tap dancing, harmonized vocals, screaming, shredding, spitting and strumming during constantly running across his 2 voluminous pedal boards controlling his tone, samples and effects. He clearly focused and directed every last ounce of energy he had left to put into his live performance. This was more than just showboating, Reinhart has a connection to his sound and was clearly in his element; controlling everything and everyone who became fixated with such onstage eccentricity. 

 The bands presence throughout tracks such as “Aped” never once faltered. The stand out track on the Patagonian Rats album was pleasantly delivered much to the same standards‘. Precise, fast, powering notes with hushed yet passionate vocals. Providing a mellower contrast, with subtle electronics and alternate vocal lines. Contrasting fills, continuation of stop/start cymbal crashes, hardened with exaggerated bass notes and finger taps. The distinguishing harmony balanced out the arduous, immersing noise.  

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Progressive musical interludes hauled their set further, when “Frozen Zoo” ‘s most distinguished riff oscillated into surroundings, the crowd commended the high octane track. Psychotic fretwork, shifting chord structure and tasty hooks escorted the more mature effort from the band’s behalf. Sequential vocals from both Nick and Evan, who frequently supplied an additional guitar and added synth, correlated the current composition. Latona filling the track with brazen, repetitive bass riffs forcing the current whistle like effect to hold an eerie ambiance whilst still remaining an infectious intonation.

The set consisted of a variation of track lengths. They skilfully balanced between providing some post-rock length songs but only familiar in the structure; as their tracks are each attacked with brutality, fusing more samples, tweaks, beats and notes as physically possible; To shorter implements, still displaying the energy that thrives from one another. Their set list broke up the consistent fast paced changes and mood shifting

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 As they truly hurtled through their set, Reinhart announced they had reached their encore, but rather than leave the stage to return again he saw no point as appreciation for the trio overwhelmed their accomplishment. The band had no time for breathers as they blitzed themselves and their tracks to their audience. As Evan left the stage, requests were flooding in as to what could be that encore track. Reinhart attempted to discourage the specific request he was receiving but ensured all not
to be disappointed, with a cheeky wink the three pursued
into the track everyone desired. 
Taken from their 2nd EP “Drugs to the Dear Youth” the extended and nothing short of epic track “40 Rods to the Hogs Head”, over 8minutes of ever- changing structures and time signatures.
All of which heightened by the phenomenal use of samples, loops and angular riffs. Each fighting for their chance to peak in such a wave of melodic fury.
This track highlighted John’s abilities throughout, illustrating his controlled achievements to learn such a developed beat coalition.

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The band have previously stated they give “an unconventional performance”, this they can proudly stand by. Dynamically their set was a lot to take in. Visually leaving you questioning what you just saw, hearing left in hiding, leaving you speechless. A sign of a powerful act.

It was truly an honour to see such an inspirational outfit perform a tight, engaging rapture bringing set- And finally being able to play the UK after years of trying.

Stone Cold Jane Austen should be incredibly proud for all attendees’ left in amazement.

We spoke to promoter Oz, regarding how they feel their launch night went:

“Overall James and I were very, very happy with the gig. Our main aim was to get a great Sargent House band to play Birmingham and pair them up with the best that the city had to offer and we definitely did that. We wanted to get the gig out there and people talking about it and the articles in the printed press (especially in the Metro and Brumnotes) and on the web really helped get a buzz going about this gig. Hopefully that interest is carried over into the scene in Birmingham too.

It was a pleasure to work with so many nice people on the night as well as the labels in advance and ACDSleeve who made the 50 CDs that we gave away on the night. Having Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos) praise and thank Stone Cold Jane Austen on stage was a definite highlight. You never see that happening so I guess we must have done something right! That just proves to us what we already knew. If you are fed up with seeing your favourite bands skip your town/city or if you’re not happy with your local promoters, give it a go yourself. If you’re passionate, have common sense and aren’t trying to make a quick buck then it’s totally doable and well worth the effort. 

Follow Tera Melos- 
An Interview with Tera Melos will be expected to hit the site following their return- Naomi.

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