To put it kindly, it wasn’t best night Soapbox have covered. Nowhere near, in fact. The support acts weren’t up to scratch, the only good support act was put on first and when they left the stage they took the majority of the crowd with them. If it wasn’t for the headline act being so superb the night would have been a calamity.
Rock Paper Panda opened the night with a lively set and they were easily the best support act of the evening. A highlight of their set was the song “New Gravity” – an interesting twist on an old track called “Gravity” – you can listen to the original version of the song here. Bravely, Rock Paper Panda ended their set with “Mother of Pearl” a song that they had only rehearsed once, and that was the night before the gig! It didn’t matter though as that was probably the best song of their set and one of the best that evening.
Now for the second act, from this point onwards it was pretty downhill. With the venue slowly emptying after Rock Paper Panda’s departure, Dress Thèque entered the fray. I wouldn’t exactly say they’re bad musicians, because they’re not, their set was just incredibly boring. They sound like any other four-piece, they were missing that little something that gives bands a unique sound. They tried banging an extra drum but that just turned out to be annoying.
The third and penultimate act, Rain Eater, were very unique, in a bad way. The majority of the audience, me included, were frowning throughout their set and with good reason. The lyrics were drowned out by the racket being produced by the rest of the band. Their style of music, spoken-word(ish), is very hard to get right and these guys made way too much noise which ruined an interesting act with a lot of potential, with the slot they were given they really shouldn’t have done that.
For Marla resurrected a night that really needed saving. They started their set with a smooth and compelling instrumental, which ended with vocals from front-man Nathan, who stepped onto the stage towards the end of the song. All in all, it was a very good way to open a set and it really raised expectations – which they exceeded. The five-piece built on their impressive start by playing “Flowers” and “Remains” which are arguably their best songs. The whole band were giving it their all, the lead guitarist was very animated with his guitar and at times the lead singer appeared to waltz with his mic stand, it was great to see and crowd seemed to be impressed. Towards the end of the set For Marla got the crowd more and more excited, both their guitarists jumped down off the stage into the crowd, yet still managing to maintain their rhythm throughout the song. Once it was over their lead guitarist hurled his rather nice looking guitar on the floor, assaulted it a few times then spat on it, it wasn’t exactly Pete Townshend but it was interesting to see nonetheless! After such a confident performance one can only hope this won’t be the last we’ll hear of For Marla. With their chilling vocals, strong instrumentals and a dauntless stage presence, For Marla have got some strong foundations to build on. Let’s hope they keep their momentum following this gig.
Article and photography by Myles J. Burrell.