Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Live Review: Photomat/The Dries @ Tachles Bar, Tel Aviv [23rd May 2015]

   OH MY GOD! Is this actually happening? Yes, that's right! For the first time in quite some months, I am reviewing a show that's not at Koro. SHOCK HORROR! Saying that, it still involves the Koro in a roundabout way.

The Driers

   Quite some time ago, apparently since the last time I actually reviewed The Driers, Ben (Mad Choice/Zaga Zaga/part owner of Koro) was recruited for drumming duties. As seen in recent times with Mad Choice, Ben's drumming has become more creative. Drumming for The Driers has given Ben a platform to really experiment and showcase his versatility. Even with songs which originally had a very simple rhythm pattern, he has used his techniques to allocate some complex yet still very suitable beats and fills.
    Tonight, the band is great as always. Bit of a weird set up on the stage, with Ben seated down left of stage (I believe that's what it is in theatre speak) instead of in the middle as is more common at shows, which kind of makes them all seem quite distant from one another. Other than that and the unfortunate technical hiccups experienced by bassist Tomer, the band and their songs are all on point. All the catchy songs that regular watchers of The Driers know and loves are here tonight, such as set opener Porchlight, the punky Fifty, the anthemic Lipstick Buds and the rave-inducing set closer Alarm. Guitarist Ronnie and bassist Tomer's vocal harmonies never cease to captivate me. The band also play a brand new song called Squeeze, which has an awesome groove in the chorus and made my face ache from smiling. 

    Even though the guys have been getting a slightly larger audience nowadays since their humble beginnings, it was really only myself and a couple of other friends of the band who were giving them any real support down at the front. Hopefully, those standing around at the back still enjoyed them and will see them again another time.


    As well as coming here tonight to see The Driers (and to review a show somewhere new for a change) I wanted to check out a band I had never heard of before. That band is Photomat. I went into the show not knowing anything about them...and I still don't. 
   According to their bandcamp, their earliest recording, entitled Lekulam Yesh Ka'eleh (rough translation: Everyone Has Them/These) is from May last year but I still don't know how long they've actually been around. If their sound is anything to go by, they could have easily started in the late 90s/early 2000s. We've got here a girl bassist (Enav), a girl drummer (Noa), a guitar playing frontman with a trendy hairdo (Noam) and a samplist on the side (Alon) adding all the extra beats, keyboard melodies and other bits and bobs. That and the sound combined together had me thinking of the more electronic Britpop I used to enjoy. Actually, it sort of made me think of North and South, who I think only British people will remember from the TV show No Sweat that spawned the band.
   Photomat play electronic pop that has just enough edge to make it stand out form some of the other bands out here doing the same thing. Normally, I'm not a massive fan of Hebrew singing bands because I can't always fully understand when watching live, but that doesn't matter tonight. The melodies and the groove of the songs was enough to have me bopping along.  After checking bandcamp, the songs which really got my attention were Hakol Chutz M'ken (Everything But "Yes") and Hilacht Alay, Kesem (rough translation: You Walked All Over Me, Magic Woman). The former is an upbeat and catchy singalong (at least melodically for me, at the time) whereas the latter took the night's atmosphere down a notch to a sultry little number which beautifully built-up throughout the song.

   The band definitely have a few fans in tonight, who are standing at the front swaying and making up dance moves, but a few things bug me about this performance. Is one of them that the frontman forgot his words a few times? No. That's happened to me. Is it that he made a big deal about ruining the song? Yes. Although some people may have noticed, the most professional thing to do is just carry on. Luckily, the band continued and repeated themselves so that he could get back into it. Is another issue being the samplist? No. I even tried to introduce samples into Woolly Boy but haven't yet mastered it. Is it that the samplist was using beats which in comparison made the drummer look like she wasn't really doing anything? Yes. She seems like a very competent drummer, listening to the band through headphones and managing to hold the backbeat. However, she did just seem to be playing a simpler version of the electronic beats already provided. As a drummer myself, this just had me focusing on that a good amount of the time.
   The band in general were a nice surprise and definitely made this Britpop kid remember his youth. On further inspection, some of their lyrics are actually quite clever and relatable, which is always good. Whether this sort of thing really goes down well nowadays, I'm not too sure, but playing what you like to play is the most important thing. 


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