Is there anything sadder than being on the guest list for a free gig?
The woe of searching desperately for someone to give your name to. The despair of finding that fewer people than usual care that you’re so-and-so from such-and-such.
The unspeakable depths of discovering you’re in the large majority of people who could conceivably look around their surroundings with a haughty air of indifference, comfortable with the fact that they’ve got nothing financial invested in this venture and can leave at any point. Nothing is more deflating.
But perhaps the sadness was enveloping. Perhaps it was reflected in the relative inconsequentiality of this gig. Not of the band, particularly, but somewhere between all of the various factors, this was a performance that just was, without being anything more.
A general sense of malaise ran throughout. A venue that is closing down being played by a band who were in a couple of hours going to play again just down the road, for what you’d imagine would be a more celebratory occasion (the single launch party). This event could have not happened and no one would have really minded.
But in spite of all that, you’d have to say The Chapman Family actually did ok. There’s a bluntness to them, a certain antagonistic bloody mindedness to the way they approach things that does appeal.
They are a band who’s name you can imagine people scrawling on things. A band who’s allegiance people will want to proclaim via scrawled biro hand onto bags and books.
There is a weight and an intensity and several songs (Kids; A Million Dollars) which blend quick-fire post-punk sensibilities with something deeper, louder and more foreboding.
Of course, when one of lead singer Kingsley Chapman’s vowels catch everything flashes up through the North East bloodline to somewhere betwixt Maximo Park and The Futureheads, but there’s something a lot more gothic knocking around here. Less Hounds Of Love, more Hounds of The Baskervilles.
It was a gig that we probably won’t particularly remember. The sound was too muddy, the band too distracted, the crowd too disinterested.
But, there were enough little specks as you sifted through the detritus to just suggest The Chapman Family are a band who may just go forth and do something a little bit special.
Next time, we might even just have to pay to see them.