Angus Reid 06/12/2007
Club Fandango have a history of picking out some of the future biggest bands and putting them on early on in their careers, so tonight should be interesting if nothing else. The venue is a particularly dispiriting place - a part time student union by the look of things, and it has a mechanical, slightly charmless feel to it. Nevertheless, the lines of sight are good, and there's absolutely no danger of not hearing what's going on.
First up are Ghostcat, a band I've never encountered before so it's a pleasantly blank canvas to start with. Sadly, they're dogged by technical problems from the off, with the bass drum vanishing from the speakers within seconds. Things go from bad to worse as, when the sound tech leaps up to assist and gets stuck into the drum kit, the bass starts to feedback uncontrollably, clearing out the lower range hearing of anyone within a five mile radius. Ghostcat aren't put off though, and carry on regardless.
Once everyone can hear again, it become apparent that Ghostcat have a liking for The Ramones and The Gossip. Female fronted, slightly punky and a little bit dancey, they tick pretty much every single one of my "I Hate This" boxes - and yet, strangely, I don't hate them. Ali McNally (I really hope that's a real name), has presence, poise and no shortage of icy, indie front-woman venom, and although the songs themselves are nothing new, the performance lifts them above the realm of boring pub bands and into that of a collective quite worth watching. As the set continues, the band seem to grow in stature and start getting comfortable on the stage, writhing around, hammering out simple yet effective riffs while McNally swoops around, reminding me a little of Alexis from The Violets. Closing song "Everybody on the Dancefloor" appears to ram raid the clichÃ© shop and make off with every trick in the book - there's even a bit of hands in the air cowbell! There is an undeniable enjoyability to Ghostcat, and though The Gossip may come calling asking for their songs back, it's just damn good to watch.
Next up for a dramatic change of mood, it's Kyte. It's like waking up the morning after a massive party at Ghostcat's place to find yourself in the middle of a dewy Scandinavian vista as the sun peeks through the mountains. To call it epic barely does it justice, this is music on an enormous scale. Clattering drums and buzzing synths, twinkling guitars and hushed breathy vocals all combine in a chest-shaking wall of sound (partly helped by more of that bass feedback returning from earlier). As things build up in intensity, the power of the drums is akin to trying to rest your head inside a washing machine on high spin, a truly battering experience. Singer Tom carries some of the intensity and performance tics of a young Thom Yorke, with vocals that sound whispered even at the greatest stretch.
So, this is all well and good, and Kyte are undoubtedly massively talented and have a very bright future ahead of them, but there is a problem. Each song is almost utterly indistinguishable from the last. It would be entirely feasible to map out the shape and structure of one song, then apply it to all the others and know exactly what's going to happen next. In a sense, it's perfect advertising fodder as you know exactly what you're going to get. Your ad exec can just pick a track at random and there you go, that's the music for the next Lexus / Jean-Paul Gaultier / Aspirational Lifestyle Brand Of Choice advert. In fact, it might be better for Kyte to bypass the industry as a whole, and start releasing aspirational merchandise under their own name and be done with it. "Hey, I just clinched the deal! Let's celebrate with a bottle of Kyte!", "This role comes with a £90K salary and a company Kyte", "Congratulations, it's a little baby Kyte". They'd make millions.
Of course, the reason I'm being so childish and unreasonable is that I can see that Kyte have prodigious talent, and the one song that they do at the moment is undeniably brilliant, but they need to spread their wings a bit and not be afraid to try new things out. It just feels as though they're in danger of wasting themselves on one formula when they're capable of so much more. See them live by all means, as I've said, they're great performers and well worth catching while they're still small, but once you've seen them, come and join me in a circle, we'll all join hands, light some candles, and mumble some words of hope for the future of Kyte.