The best things in life are free (thanks Luther and Janet) and also, sometimes the best things are kept a secret. Yesterday afternoon whilst tearing my eyes away from work for a split second (15 minutes) I saw Bella Union’s clue as to who was their secret headliner for their Christmas show at the Shacklewell Arms. The clue was, “an East London bus route.” SO EASY. It’s 2:54. Easily. How did I guess it? Because that’s the bus I spend most of my life on. My plan after work was to go to the gym (this fatty has lost some weight) and go to sleep. Two things I enjoy. I also love 2:54. I love them more than the gym and sleep, and if I didn’t go I’d probably be a bit annoyed. So off I went!
A band called Landshapes were on first., who were mighty impressive. Their singer sounds a bit like both Emily and Jenny from Warpaint mixed with Foals-esque sounds. What I did hear/see was pretty damn good.
At around half 10 Alex, Colette and Hannah took to the stage to perform an acoustic set. Colette told me afterwards that they couldn’t get their gear out of their lock-up and get it to Shacklewell Arms in time, as they finish work at 9pm. The fact that they have day jobs makes me respect them a bit more you know? Most bands I listen to do work as well as in a band, it’s hard. It’s really hard. I can’t pretend I can relate, I wish I could. But not being paid to write about Music but having a desk job during the day isn’t really the same. Being in a band requires more effort and dedication.
I don’t know if it is old age or sheer tiredness, but I cannot remember the setlist. I know they opened with Crest and closed with Sugar. The Monaco was also played. I wish I could remember the other 2/3 songs they did, but it is half 8 and I’ve had 5 hours sleep. I hope today is gentle with me.
Seeing a band like 2:54 do an acoustic set was truly special. I don’t know how everyone else in the crowd felt (there was about 30 people, they all buggered off after Landshapes for some stupid reason) but it was beautiful. If you’ve ever seen 2:54 live you’ll know that it’s quite intense and heavy. They are gentle version of one of my favourite (and ultimately one of the greatest) bands, Sleep. My Gran has got me a Sleep t-shirt for Christmas, she’s the best. 2:54’s sound captures everything I absolutely love about music. They’ve got this heightened sensation in their sound that has really come alive on their new record, The Other I. Everything about their music is dark, ethereal and really intense. I don’t know how many times I play them at work to get me through staring at a spreadsheet. It bloody helps. I probably annoy everyone drumming along on the desk.
Alex, as I’ve said so many times, is easily my favourite drummer around. He’s a pleasure to watch and he just makes you wish you could play the drums. In their set last night he really shone during The Monaco. I love the regimented drumming on it mixed with Colette’s delicate voice. Then we have Hannah. If you ever feel the need to make a list of the best guitarists (please exclude gender as gender shouldn’t be a ruling factor) then she needs to undoubtedly be number 1. I think I spent the evening admiring her gorgeous Fender acoustic and being in awe of how brilliant she is. I could never get tired of watching them live or acoustic. I love how Colette is on stage, her enforcing hand gestures are equally as dominant during an acoustic set as they are during their normal live set-up. I’ve said it before, she moves on stage as if she could bust out a verse by say, Wu Tang Clan word for word with no problem at all. If you’re one of those people who seek to define music by gender or are constantly looking for “the best front-woman” then just look at her. However, if you want a band that have everything and know that gender shouldn’t define a person’s profession, then 2:54 are that band. What I’m trying to say is, 2:54 are bloody great and I want you to love them.
When you see a band you really love in such an intimate setting, it makes you appreciate their music a lot more and you hear the pieces you may not always hear on record. Not only are they an excellent band, they are genuinely the loveliest people I’ve met. Also, I know nothing about fashion but Colette had on a beautiful coat. Just incase you were wondering.
2:54 are out on tour in February playing Manchester, Bristol and London. A drunken decision was made last Friday with my good friend to go see them in Manchester. If I had the funds, I’d do Bristol too. But hey, 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad.
Go to your local record store and pick up the finest band on Bella Union’s new record, The Other I by 2:54. It is full of mystical wonder and heavy sounds, mixed with haunting vocals.