Rolo Tomassi

support Grammatics + Pulled Apart By Horses
author AP date 03/05/09 venue Joiners, Southampton, UK

Rolo Tomassi has been hailed as quite the spectacle live, so when word got out that they'd be playing a gig at the Joiners in Southampton, it was time to test the band against their reputation. Also on the bill were two other shooting stars from the British underground indie scene to make for a true discoveries-night - not inside this scribe's usual sphere of interest, but hyped up enough to warrant checking out yet another intimate local gig with the dim lighting and near-perfect sound quality that are the trademarks of the Joiners experience.

Pulled Apart By Horses

With a name like that, you're going to have to follow through with your sound; and upon hearing the first verses it's clear that the band couldn't have picked a more appropriate name for themselves. Guitarist-vocalist Tom Hudson immediately positions himself in the center of the venue with the band behind him on stage, to make up for the skint turnout tonight, twisting and turning and hugging the ground like he's some kind of Ben Weinman impersonator. The band makes excessive (though nowhere near as excessive as The Chariot) use of feedback and random distortion which, together with Hudson's antics on the floor, affords the band the lunatic image they so very clearly strive for.

This mentality feels a bit forced and pretentious though, completely devoid of the deranged-but-organic feel of The Chariot who probably eat bands like this for breakfast. It's entertaining enough to watch, but the inexperience shines through and there's nothing particularly unique, original or even memorable about the show; like a band trying to ride on the infamy of others that sounds and looks like a PG-version of their role models (which are so obvious that they need not even be mentioned here).



Whoever put Grammatics on this tour obviously forgot to listen to the other bands on it when assembling the package, because, excuse my French but, how the fuck is this space indie an appropriate continuation from- and a precedent to Pulled Apart By Horses and Rolo Tomassi? Okay, so they have a chick sitting on a chair playing cello, that's pretty novel; now pick it up and swing it in the air like the Apocalyptica crew and maybe, just maybe, I will be impressed. Why this band is so enthusiastically promoted at present is beyond me, because I could name a hundred bands that play this music and they play it better. It's not exactly helpful, either, that the generic music is then delivered in a drowsy (it's tempting to use the term lazy) performance. It's not particularly terrible, but my recommendation is to not pay to go to a show on Grammatics' upcoming headlining tour, which they promote at every given chance.


Rolo Tomassi

In case you didn't read TL's review, let me try to paint an approximate picture of what Rolo Tomassi sounds like for you: take one part old Nintendo music, one part chaotic hardcore á la Converge, and one part the quirkiness of Horse The Band, blend, and serve bubbling. Basically it's insanely technical (so technical, in fact, that it seems to warrant a rather condescending look on the guitarist's face) indie-hardcore that relies on a keyboard arpeggiator and a female front-figure with an adorably sweet voice in between songs and in some rare calm parts, which then morphs into a voice almost identical to a certain Jacob Bannon of Converge fame. Picture that if you will: an adorable little lady from Sheffield who could sub in for vocals in Converge if there was need. It sure as hell isn't the first thing one expects to hear when the band enters.

Like Pulled Apart By Horses, there is a heavy emphasis on a frenetic stage presence, but it too feels pompous, and if it weren't for Eva Spence's mysterious mosh-dancing on stage and the occasional (beautiful, it should be added) clean singing parts, the set would grow tiring as fast as a conversation with a pet stone. It's probably that the band and its music looks and feels too good-natured to justify such a ferocious stage presence. If you want to play Nintendo-core then, I don't know, come dressed as Mario or something for gimmicks and reflect your music with your show. Perhaps if they installed a backing track that spat out a mixtape consisting of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, The Chariot and the likes and muted Rolo Tomassi's sound, the performance might make a little more sense. But let's not be too critical, because the show is obviously well-rehearsed and it's hard to put a finger on any major cock-up. Let's give it a fair


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