For two skinny dudes from Montreal Solids sure know how to generate some serious decibels.
Tonight’s gig at the Exchange is free entry. The sign against its dark exterior is scrawled with a list of acts in a hasty mess of chalk. To most of the foot traffic heading down Old Market Street these bands are unknown, but to the forty-or-so punters that decide to take a risk on this unique evening of entertainment they are in for an experience as varied as it is disorientating.
Falling Stacks are tasked with opening to an empty room. Seemingly filling a stop-gap in their schedules between jobs in IT and a violent crime spree, they teeter on the fence between over-indulgence and considered brilliance as they deliver jagged rhythms. With barely enough people to fill a Fiat Uno watching you could forgive them for failing to generate an atmosphere, and it’s with an awkward crackly stillness that the band close their set.
By comparison Ghost of the Avalanche are an explosion of gristled punk gnarlinesss. Armed with only a bass and a stripped down drum set this is how Death From Above 1979 would sound if they were raised on old Clash records. It’s fast, sweaty and delivered with love for raw, snot-nosed punk.
To round out the support there is Theo Verney, who shows up late and despite proclaiming that he isn’t the twat who swans in after all the bands have played and phones it in, he certainly does a good job of fitting the shoe. What follows is twenty minutes of well-executed throwback stoner rock, delivered with arrogance and insincerity.
The same can’t be said for Solids. They are humble in their talent, and the duo prove to be surprisingly watchable as they drive relentlessly through material from their latest album ‘Blame Confusion’. For two skinny dudes from Montreal they sure know how to generate some serious decibels. That is to say their live show is an impenetrable wall of sound. There is little respite from the driving drum patterns and swelling guitar riffs which feel concrete-heavy in the tiny cavern of the Exchange main room. It’s a compelling racket that demands attention, but in this enclosed space there are times tonight when it becomes a suffocating experience.
The tracks on ‘Blame Confusion’ have an opportunity to show their shades and subtleties on record. Live, this material loses some of that nuance that separates each track from another and it is possible to find yourself experiencing the sensation of the music and its physical effect rather than the actual music itself. ‘Haze Away’ is a set highlight which provides a welcome break in their rhythm and feels positively enormous live. It is the strongest song Solids have in their collection; a track that dips into mainstream waters without leaving the safety of the noise-punk that Solids have made their own.
As their thirty-minute set comes to a close it’s hard to deny that Solids have given their all tonight. They did their best to fill the emptiness of the Exchange with their music, but the absence of a crowd is an insurmountable factor that damages the experience. Because of this there is a weird feeling of detachment from Solids. Despite the sweat on their brows and the ringing in their ears something didn’t connect.
Catch a sense of the pairs raucous sound with ‘Cold Hands’ right here: