Gig Review

Plus Slaves To Gravity
Bristol, Bierkeller
11th October 2007

Oceansize    Slaves To Gravity

Being a Bierkeller virgin, I had no idea what the venue was going to look like. I have to say when I noticed the entrance looked like a small single door entrance to a strip club, I got a little worried. But when I got inside to find lots of, well, bierkellers (long, picnic style tables for those of you who don’t know - I had to be told too) in a large, open plan, pub-style setting. No one was on the floor in front of the stage, instead everyone was sat having a casual drink with their friends. Luckily when Slaves to Gravity took to the stage, a small group formed about 4 feet from the front of the stage. It seemed people wanted to play it safe and keep their distance.

Slaves to Gravity are one of the most diverse looking bands I’ve seen in a long time. Each of their appearances were dramatically different, save from their likeness for wearing skinny jeans. Tommy Gleeson (lead vocals/guitar) in particular reminded me of a Johnny Depp-esque pirate with his long, black ponytail, facial hair and various piercings. From start to finish, Slaves to Gravity demonstrated a raw, passionate style of grungy rock, which, although not my cup of tea, was pretty damn good. The crowd remained fairly small for the whole set, but a fair few started nodding their heads in time with the music, so appreciation was shown where it was due. What was more, the band were very humble and really seemed to appreciate every ounce of applause they received.

My favourite song of their set had to be ‘Big Red’, which was their debut single. The song oozes intense riffs and a powerful, soulful chorus. The adrenaline virtually drips off of them as each chord is played. In fact, bassist, Toshi Ogawa leapt around the stage so much it was as if he’d had copious amounts of Lucozade before heading out to face the crowd. This theme carried through for songs such as their forthcoming single ‘Meantime’ and ‘Mr Regulator’. The band seemed to carry out their show of dark, gritty rock with a great sense of ease for the entirety of the time that they were on stage and they were incredibly watchable and nothing short of very entertaining.

Having known that Oceansize supported Fightstar (a band I am secretly quite fond of) last year, I had high hopes of what they were going to be like, having not actually heard them live before. After Slaves to Gravity had left the stage the crowd had immediately shimmied right to the front eagerly awaiting Oceansize’s arrival. It seemed every tall man in Bristol was out and was stood in my eyeline so I had to move to the side to get a good view.

When Oceansize entered the stage, the hardcore fans at the front went absolutely crazy, as Oceansize started off with ‘Trail of Fire’ which included a long instrumental at the beginning which seemed, to me, to go on for eternity before the vocals kicked in, which were barely audible. It was hard to tell if this was because Mike Vennart (lead vocals/guitar) was singing extra quietly, or whether the sound was not high enough in the venue. It just did not sound very distinguished and I found it difficult to make out the core of the lyrics. The songs that followed, including a mix from their last album, ‘Everyone Into Position’ and some new material from their forthcoming album ‘Frames’, sounded much more promising with really intense and bolshy intros which managed to get hold of my attention again, but once the introductions had finished, the songs seemed to settle into a much more mellow and tranquil sound.

In all honesty, as songs progressed, I was left increasingly more dissatisfied. It seemed a lot of people had resorted to sitting down, or on the sidelines, looking considerably bored, as I was. Now don’t get me wrong, there was a small, strong crowd, continuously enthralled by Oceansize’s set, and they demonstrated it by their roar of applause and enthusiastic cheers, but the band’s music just did not grasp me.

Before this review begins to sound like the most negative thing I could ever write, I have to say that when listening to Oceansize’s songs before I saw them play live, I quite liked them. But in my personal opinion, when I saw them, it did not translate successfully to a performance. If I were to liken their sound to another band’s, I would say they definitely have elements of Radiohead with their eclectic compositions. It was simply that the awe of Radiohead was not present this night and the music did not capture my spirits like progressive rock can.

Their songs rarely come in at a running time under five minutes due to their lengthy instrumentals, which clearly demonstrate a talent which the members of the band possess. Regardless of this, I couldn’t help thinking that instrumentals are merely backgrounds which are perfectly lovely to listen to from a CD as and when you choose, but during a gig, I had no real focus upon it.

The band themselves, did not seem overly happy to be doing what they were doing; barely moving apart from rare occasions. Its monotony and low-tone left the time dragging during a live set, and the fact that I really had to strain to try and hear what was being sung. I really wanted to like Oceansize, and given what I had heard of their material beforehand, I thought I would. When I go to see a band play live, they don’t necessarily need to be my ‘kind of band’, they just need to be memorable. But unfortunately, for me, they simply were not.

Review By Fiona


gambler (guitar, keyboards)
steve durose (guitar, backing vocals)
mark heron (drums, drums, cymbals)
steven hodson (bass, keyboards)
mike vennart (guitar, lead vocals )
 Slaves To Gravity

Tommy Gleeson (Lead Vocals, Guitars)
Toshi Ogawa (Bass, Backing Vocals)
Jason Thomopoulos (Drums, Percussion)
Mark Verney (Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals)
 Band Related Links
Oceansize Myspace
Slaves To Gravity Myspace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?