Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fourteen Nights At Sea @ Northcote Social Club...

Fourteen Nights At Sea
Northcote Social Club
Friday 20th January 2012.

I had an arthroscopy done on both of my knees at the beginning of December and am still recovering. The cabin fever has been somewhat excruciating at times especially as I’m used to going out to see bands usually 2 to 3 nights a week. My first gig was last Saturday at the kick arse HEAVY Mag launch at The Corner. A massive line-up headlined by SixFtHick and the mag is what has been missing in Australia since we lost our beloved Hot Metal. I am proud to say I am a part of the HEAVY beast!

Tonight’s Fourteen Nights At Sea set is my second venture out into the ‘real’ world and I’m stoked it’s to see a band like this as I know I wont be disappointed.

Driving in I was cranking Black Rainbows and psyched for the night ahead. Liam (Fourteen Nights At Sea’s drummer) dropped on Facebook earlier that tonight was going to be a doomy set. This should suit their instrumental style perfectly.

Last time I saw these guys play was at their double LP launch at The Old Bar. At one stage it was like they had 17 guest guitarists on stage at once, well perhaps there was only a few. A wall of sound was slowly crumbling the building down. Guitar necks were winding throughout muso’s and it was an amazing set.

After I walked into the Northcote Social Club and apologised to the guy at the door for asking how he was and not giving him time to answer, I wandered in to the band room to see it partly filled of punters mostly seated on the floor. What the fuck is this? A love in? I always find it weird when people are on the floor in a band room.

I mentioned this feeling of uncomfortable dissatisfaction to the bar man and he said the room was the same the night before with about 150 people seated for something like a banjo gospel one man band or something to that affect.

Setting up the band seemed straight faced and serious until I noticed one of the guitarist’s faux strum to the reggae house music and both crack a smile. I was standing between girls sitting and chuckling (probably about the fact that they are now permanently stuck to the sticky carpet) and a few guys talking about what seemed to be the benefits of humbuckers. It’s all very entertaining when you’re people watching waiting for your friends to arrive before the band kicks in.

The floor sitting seems to be like a plague and as the room starts to fill a bit more everyone is doing it. Luckily I don’t succumb easily to peer pressure. The house music fades, one of Fourteen’s guitarist’s motions for the stage lights to be turned down, a guitar pedal tapped on can be heard throughout the now quiet room yet still these arrogant fuckers sitting on the floor aren’t shifting. Hell, I had double knee surgery and I’m up on both feet!

As the red stage lights creep in and change the mood some flanged lightly finger picked guitar starts… gentle symbols keep the time. Subtle repetitive wanderings take us around and around… swaying from side to side. You can feel that Fourteen Nights are easing us into it with a very slow build with beautiful meandering. I’m thinking about Liam’s comment about a doomier set, I know it’s going to come but am trying to place where this sits right now, at this moment. Due to the finger picking it’s like a more melodic stoner rock yet on slowmo. The groove is minimally increasing, the room is captivated and the sound pulls you into a trance.

And there it is… what happened? I am not listening to what they’re doing, just feeling it, swaying in motion, then I realise that I haven’t even noticed the fuzz has kicked in and there’s a barrage of hardcore-like high end that’s cutting through the low’s like a razor. It’s chilled, it’s deafening, it’s ferocious and calming, it’s how I imagine it would fell like drowning, a beautiful end.

Between songs there isn’t always calm, erratic guitars are screaming out in pain as the pedals are twisted and turned, writhing and yelling. Distorted echoes and flange and then the next song starts to kick in with a tribal drumming and bass rhythm and heads start steadily yo-yo-ing in time.

Fourteen Nights At Sea is a fitting name to go with their music. Slowly drifting and rockin to the steady peaks and troughs in the middle of the ocean. A light breeze is echoing throughout the sails… then out of nowhere you haven’t even noticed a dark and ferocious storm cloud creep in and the white caps are now consuming the boat! There’s cracks of lightning over head and screams of terror coming up from inside the cabin…

The mellower sounds of the band can create an uneasy anticipation. You’re waiting for it to kick in and they drag it out longer… and longer… and then just as you think it will kick in… longer… At times being on the edge of your seat for so long can make you feel really unsettled. I like though how Fourteen delivers it. It’s not annoying and over the top but definitely a lot longer than most would ever venture. It’s a subtle build that asks you to let go of what you’re used to in a song and just go with it. To feel not just what they’re playing but also where they’re coming from. There are bands that have done it before and there’s going to be bands that will try and do it in the future, but right now, in Melbourne, these guys have got it right.

The heavier doom influenced storm that they bring with an unsuspecting smack right across your face is awesome. A full body heavy groove that I imagine they let go on for hours during rehearsals. They come and they go. Songs blend into one and each set unique every night from the way it’s approached with their battery of improvised effects and chaos screaming over the top. As my friend said “experimenting like a mad scientist”.

After the heavy grooves, the barrage and the noise… it all stopped… one of their guitarists stepped forward into the mic and before they all left the stage said… “Sorry about that.”

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