Having been to their first gig back in March at the behest of guitarist Rob and being sufficiently impressed already by their awesome tracks online, I’d promised The Void I would review their next gig.
So, in true gonzo style…
It has been argued before that Mondays (quite counter-intuitively) are in fact the best nights for drinking. So in that vein, what better use of my Monday night could there possibly be than to take a trip to see The Void play Bristol’s illustrious and well-known haunt The Fleece?
Answer: none. But Monday night frolics aren’t for everyone, so I wasn’t sure just how many would brave the chilly spring weather to take in the ‘local bands showcase’, which (besides The Void) featured performances from Broken Kick, The Three Faces of Eve and headliners Drive Through Therapy.
As we rocked up I could see the band milling around outside while the first act tuned up – I said hi and pulled up a seat to roll a smoke. As I rolled, front-man Natt proudly announced with a grin that they’d be playing a brand new song that night.
‘Great – which one’ I asked.
‘The second one in’ says Rob, lighting up.
‘Yeah, we’re not doing Tom Sawyer this time’ explained Natt, as he chased a loose ticket caught up in the wind. ‘The new one’s called Cold Heart, it’s pretty good – well, I think so obviously.’
He retrieved the ticket from a puddle and gave it a shake. A sudden look of realisation came over him as he passed me my damp ticket. ‘Oh, aren’t you the guy?’
‘Yeah, with the thing’ I told him.
‘Yes, you’re the guy with the thing – of course.’ We both knew what we meant – I think.
‘And I remembered to bring the camera this time’ I added, patting my case. I’d been pretty bummed out the last time I’d seen them and not thought to bring it along – a minute into the show and I was kicking myself (I’m not exactly the cream of photography – in fact I’m pretty bad – but I do like to take a few 35mm snaps when I can. Unfortunately, trying to use an ancient analogue camera in a dimly lit room while you’re pissed isn’t always a winning combination, but you can usually yield a few gems from amongst the crappage – so, it’s totally worth it).
‘Excellent! Did you know we’re recording tonight as well? We’re getting all the kit hooked up now, it’s great.’
Natt’s excitement was well-founded, as my past Void experiences confirmed. He and the band absolutely deliver on-stage – each one a master of his chosen instrument. From Rob’s effortlessly cool solo work to Ted’s funky bass-licks and from Natt’s epic power screams and wild energy to Challen’s insistent skin-bashing, they’ve got it down – and it really is something special. They more than live up to the quality of their studio-recorded material.
As I said, the last time I’d seen them was a few months ago at The Louisiana, their very first gig. They’d recorded parts of that and there was nary a problem even then, so I could see why Natt was so enthusiastic.
‘So how are you expecting the crowd to stack up this time round? Looks bigger than last time already’ I said, counting heads.
‘Well I’m not expecting it to be as big as the first one, but anything’s better than last time – that was a disaster.’
‘Yeah, that was pretty shit’ offered Rob with a chuckle.
Natt nodded in agreement.
‘If it’s as busy as the first one I’ll be impressed, but either way it’s good people are coming’ he said, dishing out some more tickets. I could count seven or eight of us stood out there (excluding the band), with maybe a dozen more already inside. Early days yet, but looking pretty good.
By this point the main doors had opened up, so with the first band picking up their kit I got my hand stamped and headed to the bar. The Void were on third, so we had plenty of drinking time to kill watching the first two acts play.
Prior to the gig I hadn’t paid much thought to the other three bands playing. As I’d only really come to see The Void, it was a pleasant enough surprise to find out that they didn’t suck at all – so they merit a few words at least: great riffs and fairly impressive vocals from Broken Kick and a quite literally insane stage act from The Three Faces of Eve – complete with a wide-eyed, institutionally-attired vocalist wielding a huge knife and a red-eyed, fire-charred doll; not at all what I was expecting, but great nonetheless.
With the second set coming to an end and already a bit worse for wear, I traipsed back outside to grab another smoke before The Void got ready to play, where I bumped into Rob.
‘Wow, those guys were crazy – that was a pretty intense set.’
‘I know – that’s a hard act to follow to be fair! Were you saying something about an interview before? What kinda things are you gonna ask?’
‘Well, yeah – I was thinking of doing some kind of interview review thing, but I didn’t really manage to come up with any deep or meaningful questions, so I don’t know… Any prescient words before you go on?’
‘Damn, prescient words?’ He scratched his chin and laughed. ‘What the fuck, that’s like more pressure than the gig itself man. I don’t know what to say… If you want an interview, speak to Natt – he’ll love that.’ We could both see Natt’s ears prick up from a few metres away.
I shook my head.
‘At this rate I won’t be in any state to do anything soon, so I wouldn’t worry too much. I’m sure I’ll probably just make it all up anyway.’
‘You’re on now anyhow, so I’m going back in.’ I finished my cigarette and wished him luck before heading back inside.
From my spot at the bar I could count upwards of about forty people in the crowd – not too shabby for a Monday night! Taking up residence by a table in the centre of the room, I readied my camera and put down my pint.
Up on stage the band launched into their opening number (possibly the first Void classic) ‘Someone Else’s Queen’ – a great track with a driving rhythm section and a sprinkling of instantly memorable guitar riffs.
I spent a moment setting the levels on my camera and reeled off a few shots before taking a swig of beer. Looking around, I could already see heads beginning to nod.
Watching Natt belt the title lyric out at an ever-increasing pitch and jump about the stage like a man possessed, it was hard not to share in his apparent delight (I believe this is something he refers to as ‘shred’ – look it up), as the infectious music by now had my full attention.
Augmented by Natt’s commanding power-vocals, the song inevitably built to an incredible crescendo before Rob seemingly channeled Kurt Cobain’s spirit straight through his guitar with a scorching solo. With Rob’s spellbinding solo still hanging in the air, Natt pulled out his flute for one more catchy little riff as the song drew to an end.
If you haven’t actually heard The Void before you may have just said ‘…what the fuck?’ It’s hard to explain, but like chili and chocolate, Natt’s ethereal notes fit right in with the grungy guitar riffs and crashing cymbals, providing a strange kind of musical counter-balance.
To be continued…