Vladimir / The Get Downs / The New Fabian Society / Metal Rabies – The Balcony Bar, Dundee – 7th April 2012

Having missed the launch of the debut Vladimir E.P. in August, I was determined not to miss the launch of new single ‘Cold Winter’s Grasp’. And a promising looking bill was enough to drag me out of the house.

First up was supposed to be the Wildhouse but although all three members are present, the performance instead mutates into a Metal Rabies show.

Sheila and Peet kick things off with two guitars and squalling feedback before Paul suddenly appears several minutes into the cacophony clutching a ‘Single File Traffic’ sign. Thereafter several members of the audience are offered shots on a guitar or on the effects pedals to contribute to the ‘piece’. Sonic terrorism as performance art? Perhaps.  High art or just taking the piss? Undoubtedly.

Next up were the New Fabian Society who had crossed my previously radar to the extent of checking out their EP once but never managing to get back to it. That one listen suggests that they are potential soul mates for Vladimir so their inclusion on the bill made perfect sense.

More surprising though was that their noise was generated in person by just two people. Unfortunately it’s something of a battle for them against the sludgy sound but there are moments of clarity to suggest a Scottish take on iLIKETRAINS.

The Get Downs are the most straightforward proposition of the night. Their take on rock’n’roll ranges from a couple of Pixies like tunes, some garage metal, a little Violent Femmes and one tune that has a real 50s feel to it. There’s even a novelty vocals only tune. Great fun.

It’s the third time I’ve seen the headliners in 4 months and, unfortunately due to technical difficulties it doesn’t live up to the past 2 shows. Josh’s bass packs in during the second song resulting in a temporary suspension of hostilities. But even worse is that Ross’s vocals, one of their most potent weapons surely, are virtually lost in the mix throughout.

For the first time in my experience during ‘Mellow’, Ross doesn’t go wandering through the audience, instead finishing his contribution to the song from on top of the drum kit before stalking off stage, perhaps in frustration at some of the evening’s problems.

Yet even in such adverse circumstances there’s still a vitality about Vladimir that fully grabs my attention.

‘Cold Winter’s Grasp’ is available for download  now, although I’m not quite sure where!