The fella on the television said there was going to be a storm; and he was not wrong. It was pouring with rain the night of the much anticipated Kalu Kalae album launch party and I found myself charging up and down Graffiti Street frantically searching for the gig that I was starting to suspect was invisible or, worse, cancelled.
To my relief I eventually discovered the Alice-in-Wonderlandish entrance to the gothic St John’s Crypt. I was amazed that this graveyard of medieval nobility had been transformed into a stunningly unique (if not eerie) live-music venue. And what’s the best thing about doing a gig in the basement of a church? Free (above board) tins of beer for all attendees – a nice touch I thought.
The first of the support acts was the delicate and considered Black Lit Canopy. Their songs contain a lot of space – a fact which they not only demonstrated, but also verbally acknowledged (possibly because the ever-growing rabble was filling the sonic space with incoherent racket). I must admit my favourite bit of the show was when the talented twosome filled the cavern with their unique harmonies.
If Black Lit Canopy was a delicate start to the evening, it was followed by a bit of a diversification. Forgery Lit had all the noisy edge and attitude of a garage rock outfit, but executed with finesse. Call it ‘accomplished grunge’ if you like. The stand-out song was ‘Bicycle’, the chorus (unlike your average chorus filled with generic words and phrases) consisted of a harrowing cry from lead singer Amy Amp. I initially thought the cry was a police siren, but then I had consumed my fair share of bring-your-own beer by this point.
Needless to say I wasn’t the only one. It was time for the main event and this ancient holy building was now packed to the rafters with drink-sodden Kalu Kalae fans. There were people standing and jumping on the ‘peripheral wall benches’ (perhaps not the technical term, but such was their degree of desecration) and it wouldn’t have been surprising to see some hearty party goer lapping vodka out of the nearby font.
We were all treated to a superb selection of songs from the Kalu Kalae repertoire. I got to hear my personal favourite, ‘She Was All’ early on in the set, and the guys had a number of guest collaborators (through the miracle of Facebook I’ve found out these lovely ladies were Beth Loates-Taylor, Nat Shervington and Annie Wright… keep your ears peeled for their names in the future).
Now as you may remember from their exclusive interview on the Bristol Beats Club, Kalu Kalae hinted that there would be a mysterious and unheard single on the new E.P. Exciting, right? I suspect this could have been the penultimate epic and unheard song, alas my drunkenness prevented me from catching its name. The mystery continues, but stay tuned to the band’s Facebook page for updates.
Despite my forgetfulness, the evening was a rousing success and I for one await with bated breath the digital release of, ‘Gasp’, (as you would if you were literally bating your breath). The choice of venue was a stroke of genius and allowing people to bring their own booze was an empowering (albeit risky) touch. There was but one problem though: dead medieval nobility don’t seem to have to go to the toilet very often, and the venue left attendees with nowhere to relive themselves. But I guess a rancid smelling nearby alleyway is a small price to pay for a fine evening of entertainment.
Words: Chris Bilko, www.bristolbeatsclub.com