Vasquez – Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Fri 24 May 2013
Intelligent instrumental post-rock, with support from Alright the Captain, Billy Ray Osiris and Crusades
Prior to the arrival of headliners Vasquez onstage tonight, it’s easy to align the other hard-rocking acts on the bill to various parts of the body. Alright the Captain are undoubtedly the brain: from a bank of guitar pedals and a split-level synth set-up, they conjure fast-switching time signatures and abrupt melody changes, which are all very cerebral but somewhat lacking in emotive qualities. Billy Ray Osiris specialise in a certain gut-level immensity: with eight members of the band spilling off the stage (including two drummers and no vocalists), they create an almighty, otherworldly sonic forcefield that threatens to rearrange your insides. Crusades, meanwhile, are fast, loud, screamy and seem at risk of careening out of control at any moment: they are, undeniably, the ballsiest of the bunch.
But then Vasquez hit the stage and ruin the whole artfully-constructed simile. With good-natured stage banter and self-aware song titles (opening twosome ‘Pow!’ and ‘Noodle Bar’ set the tone for much ear-catching drumming and playful guitar noodling to come), they could be tonight’s funny bone. On the other hand, their ability to combine intricate guitar-work with a propulsive rhythm section does a great deal to get feet moving and toes tapping – the odd Death From Above 1979-esque bass riff ropes in the head-banging crowd as well. And while all of the above may make them sound like your average good-time party band, there’s a real sense of intelligence in the music as well – it just doesn’t get in the way of a more instinctual, physical reaction. In short, they play a blistering gig and look like they have a great time doing it – for that, they deserve a big hand.