Vasco da Gama said goodbye the only way they know how: in true style. Getintothis’ Eamonn Lavery got sandwiched in between one of Liverpool’s strongest bills in recent years.
Emotions ran high as Liverpool had its collective head tenderised in saying goodbye to it’s favourite trigonomically inclined sons, Vasco da Gama.
Their last set ever was the main course in a line-up consisting almost entirely of main courses, and headlined by cult math-rock three-piece and chronic envelope pushers, California’s Tera Melos.
One of Getintothis’ Ones to Watch this year, opening act Glossom could be a bright prospect on the basis of the brilliantly noodley guitar lines of guitarist Alex Cottrell alone.
The band produce a very studied 90s post-rock sound something like bands such as Pele (not the scouse one) and Ghosts & Vodka, but with a fairly solemn brass section.
It is a polished and well-rehearsed set – dedicated to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, apparently – which, despite the odd moment of brightening nerdiness, is a bit sterile and samey. Still, the band are only starting out and it’s a promising performance.
Glossom at the Kazimier, Liverpool
Cleft, on the other hand, are a eight-limbed noise-git who blast straight into a head-spinning display of riff and effect. This is no frills, visceral instrumental rock music – chopped up, swirled round 50 times and spat out in a million different directions via a pedal board with a mind of its own.
It’s like Three Trapped Tigers without any of the bits that aren’t riffs; prog with the fat trimmed off. The sense of humour in the music is palpable.
Drummer John’s manically expressive face contorts in all sorts of hilarious ways throughout the set, as guitarist Dan throws himself about the stage and then chucks himself back towards his myriad guitar peddles, this is music not for the faint hearted, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
Cleft at the Kazimier, Liverpool
How to follow that? Well, have we mentioned that it was Liverpool’s should-be-way-bigger-but-instead-they’ve-broken-up 90s math-rock throwbacks Vasco da Gama’s last ever show? And boy was it special.
The group threw themselves into one last musical fling, and it was emotional.Dave Kelly’s vitally groovy and uniquely humorous drum patterns bounce and bop, spilling over the edges of the songs whilst the technicality and skill of all four friends is breathtaking.
Guitarist Chris Lynn alternates between bouncing chops off of bassist Joe Falconer – who nearly didn’t make it (expect to learn more about this in the near future, after singer John offered up the film rights to the thrilling turnaround) – and destroying his fretboard with those flame-retardant fingers of his.
John Crawford’s vocals hark to the glory days of the 90s emo of the Kinsella brothers’ various bands, without ever being overly referential or contrived, and the dark humour of his lyrics add a refreshing directness.
Underlying all of this, Falconer’s energetic baselines dart in and out, creating space for themselves, tying the songs together with tasteful ease.
Vasco da Gama say ta-ta at the Kazimier, Liverpool
Vasco played through a selection of songs from their five years with the energy of best friends having the best time, all smiles and jumping around.
2012 single Them Teeth was a highlight before set closer The Greenland Problem from 2013’s Geography EP (fittingly, the last track on their last EP) saw an emotional set come to a tear jerker of an ending and hugs all round.
The end of a very special, and criminally underrated band. And they weren’t even headlining.
For the uninitiated, Tera Melos sort of exist somewhere inside the prism of Weezer, King Crimson and Lightning Bolt.
A 21st century schizoid band composed of three truly virtuosic performers who present some of the most beautifully all-over-the-place music one is likely to witness.
It’s frenetic stuff from the very start, and most of it is so complicated that you have to switch off and let the controlled insanity of singer Reinhart’s strangely bubblegum melodies sweep you away on a technicolor trip.
It’s like Adventure Time on DMT. Reinhart does things with his guitar, effects peddles and a keyboard set up that are beyond comprehension, never mind description.
After starting with some of the rifest songs from recent LP X’ed Out, the set quietens down for the first couple of minutes of the warped pop weirdness of Snake Lake before descending into all out instrumental maelstrom which took in songs from Patagonian Rats.
Tera Melos at the Kazimier, Liverpool
It was always going to be difficult for the band to connect fully with a crowd emotionally exhausted after VASCO’S LAST GIG™, but those willing to have their heads fully scribbled all the way through with Crayola were fully rewarded.
This was one of the strongest line-ups of it’s kind in Liverpool in recent times, and it was strange to see such balls out, integrity-spewing performances juxtaposed with a worrying proportion of the crowd feeling completely comfortable to chat (see: “network loudly”) throughout most of the performances.
It would be a shame to dwell on this for too long, though, as the effort put in by the bands was exceptional, and it was a fittingly brilliant send off for one of Liverpool’s finest groups.
To end on a note of supreme optimism for Vasco fans: In a twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan, Vasco da Gama confirmed yesterday on Facebook the appetising prospect of a new project from John, Chris and Dave.
The circle of life comes from when one door closes and that.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam.
Further reading on Getintothis:
- Liverpool Sound City 2013: Future of the Left, Andrew Loog Oldham, Police Squad, Super Fast Girlie Show, The Boy Royals, Chloe Howl, Vasco Da Gama, The Anfield Wrap