March 26th | Facebook

Not gonna lie, watching a live stream of a concert feels very unnatural at first. Sure, it does have its advantages – you can attend no matter where you (or the artist) is physically located; you don’t have to worry about finding a ticket (just a decent internet connection); you can drink whatever alcoholic beverage you want, providing your local supermarket has any left, of course; and the only unwelcome mosher liable to land on your head is your cat. Gig-going, though, is an inherently social experience, and enjoying it by yourself does feel odd. Still, needs must and all that.

If it feels odd to us, though, imagine what it must be like for the artists. Take, for example, Gareth JS Thomas. In a world without COVID-19, Gareth would have been packing his bags ready to fly out to North America next week for a headline tour with his band, USA Nails. No doubt the South London noiseniks would have made many new friends Stateside behind their outstanding 2019 record Life Cinema. Instead, here he is in a darkened room, with only his equipment and an image projector for company.

Ever the pro, though, Thomas goes about his business with aplomb, with ‘his business’ in this case being an entrancing set of dark, creative electronica, blissful and moody in equal parts. Although technical issues cut his set short, we see enough to demonstrate that the man has talents that go well beyond his mastery of the electric guitar.

Next up is a solo set by False Advertising guitarist Jen Hingley. Hingley does an admirable job transferring FA’s fuzzy, grunge-infused tracks to the acoustic ‘stage’ (small chair), giving confident renditions of tracks like ‘Uncomfortable’ and ‘You Won’t Feel Love’. We are also treated to a new song, ‘Personal Space’ which was apparently written before you-know-what, but which is obviously very appropriate for the circumstances.

She has a drum machine to add to the sound, but in truth, it’s not really needed, as her voice is more than strong enough to carry the load. Her set is an excellent showcase for a quality band.

Tonight’s headliners, Manchester’s Calva Louise, were due to spend this week continuing their European tour with American heavyweights, Highly Suspect. They certainly aren’t here to be sad though, as the three of them have massive smiles on their faces, as if they just emerged onto the stage at Glastonbury.

They play two sets tonight, and set two opens with the always-uplifting ‘Getting Closer’, a beautifully catchy pop tune that make you want to jump up and dance. (This author couldn’t, because he was sprawled out on the sofa eating trifle, but the thought was there). ‘Belicoso’, meanwhile, is fierce and tight, sounding weirdly like a flamenco song when played acoustically. Their joy is infectious, and the stress of the last few weeks just seems to ebb away while they play.

All in all, then, a highly enjoyable evening of music. While watching performances online will never match up to experiencing a show live, it does give the opportunity to check out some bands that you may not otherwise had the chance to go see. Regardless, it gives you something to look forward to on these long isolation days, and that is huge.

See the video for ‘Belicoso’ here: