Last Sunday, Funtime Concerts&Records put together a nice show in Sojo, Leuven. Two things made me attend the concerts: one of them was the enthusiastic slogan Funtime has on their website: “Welcome to all those who still believe in alternative music as a counterculture. A scene of people, willing to communicate, without judging to fast and with a strong focus on discovering new aspects of life.” which is quite an open-minded opinion. The other reason was MASSIS.
I discovered MASSIS two months ago in Het Depot when they opened for Soufly and I was more than happy to be able to see them again so soon. I already wrote about them, but there are a couple of things I would like to reiterate. Calling MASSIS a new band seems highly unfair as the members are far away of being new to stage. Their experience reaches back the late ‘80s and has undergone through many different styles: hardcore, post-punk, hard rock, noise rock. But if you expect an old sound refreshed here and there, you couldn’t be more wrong, these guys are cool. The four-piece instrumental band masters a gifted combination of aggressiveness and attractiveness. The first one resides in the well-trained quality and force of the bass and drums and not in the level of the sound. The second, in the playful and stylish repetitiveness of the rhythms produced by the two guitars. All together, you might get the impression they would just smash up their instruments and leave the stage at any time, but this is just the rock’n’roll feeling. With such recipe, the effect they have on the audience is both blissful and intriguing, judging by their complete captured attention.
The alternative journey of the evening continued with Off the Charts, a melodic post hardcore band, formed of 4 young men from Dilbeek. Their style is exploring both the emphasis on melody and the roughness of pure punk rhythms, with 2 alternative vocals (one on the drums) and fast specific drumming. The guitar work complements both styles but make the difference where the tunes go harder towards a heavier sound.
The third band of the evening was Crazy Arm from UK. Crazy Arm is a band that made me recall Woven Hand, Fugazi and Thee Silver Mt. Zion in one go. At first impression, it is striking how different they sound from anything heard before. Formed in 2006 in Plymouth, they call themselves a roots-punk ensemble, which is a quite nice description for the variety of style they incorporate in their performance: classic rock, country, protest folk music, punk rock, bluegrass. And there’s even more substance beyond that, because a band with such influences, from those musical styles being the closest to the people, couldn’t be away from an activist message. The basis stays punk I would say, with fast drumming, fuzzy guitars, but the rough vocals brings the Americana in place. And of course, the banjo. And bands with violins are always special. Crazy Arm made me wonder: is this punk played with a folk attitude or vice-versa? One of those bands that make you push boundaries outside your comfort zone.
All in all, it was a very nice festival-like line-up, with bands which are not doomed to get stuck in one genre for the sake of success. Their experience and formation dissipates into something which is no longer in an experimental phase but already inspiring music.