Monday saw the final Frequency of the 2011-12 academic year, capping off a year of live performances by some stunning local acts. With Rob Chapman, The Harlequin, and Yearbook offering different avenues into alternative music, a dedicated intimate crowd were treated with some stand-out moments throughout the night.
First to the stage was acoustic soloist Rob Chapman. Inevitable comparisons to Frank Turner aside, Chapman demonstrated great realism in his lyrics as, fairly new to the scene, he showcased new material. ‘The Railway’ gave a sense of longing before continuing into ‘I’ve Met Too Many Men’; a frank discussion, with political tinges, bemoaning the presence of hypocrisy in every walk of life. Though Rob forgot his harmonica for one song and was “missing” an important band member for another, he displayed an oustandingly warm connection with his audience; wishing one member a happy birthday before inviting three of his closest friends onto the stage for an apparently impromptu, but clearly planned, folk ditty with a sprinkling of harmonicas added to Antonia Cõunt’s back-and-forth lyrics. All in all, his writing demonstrated an unexpected warmth in it’s topics being both reflective and so familiar, describing a girl he met in Jesters as a “Lioness” of which “killing is your art”.
With gritty guitar solos and running riffs, The Harlequin continued with their swaggery upbeat chimes. Together, they captured elements of shoegaze rhythms, representing a sort of Los Campesinos! without the unnecessary drama. The foursome were unafraid to dip in and out of a luscious melodic flow, playing some great indie-dance drumbeats rich with breakdowns and guitar hooks. They carried on with a quiet defiance singing lyrics where they repeatedly picked themselves off the floor before cleaning themselves up and moving onwards. One can’t help but think that, if the Arctic Monkeys wore matching hoodies and sweaters and the first thing they did each morning was polish their meticulously shiny shoes, this would be what they would look like.
Finally, after a confounding yet understated atmospheric build-up, Hampshire-based rock band Yearbook rounded off the night. Laced with abounding energy and thrash cymbals, the only thing their songs appeared to have in a common was a screamed chorus. Though difficult to understand at points, these were euphoric opportunities for their lead singer to explode, channelling out his powerful inner emotions. The band were quick to change the direction of their music throughout, playing tangents in their rhythms to keep the audience on their toes and utilising their ability to gradually build up and up throughout a song and then change its tone at the click of their fingers.
However, as their performance progressed they comfortably settled into their rhythm. The band’s lyrics became better developed, expressing their inner anguish and other emotions by raising their voice. With lines such as “puppy dogs’ tails…that’s what boys are made of…girls are made of stronger stuff”, they ended with child-like enthusiasm. Their was not a moment where Yearbook failed to perform with the upmost energy, becoming so lost in the music that their drummer and guitarist left the stage long after the other band members. Indeed, this was infectious for the band were unable to play an encore for they had run out of songs to perform.
Local music fans should stay excited for not only are Yearbook spending the summer writing new material, but Rob Chapman and The Harlequin also demonstrate signs of going on to great things. The Alternative and Indie Music Society’s (AIM) Frequency will return in October with what, if tonight is anything to go by, promises to be yet another night of outstanding local music.