Maybeshewill+Neoritmo+Gallops @ The Exchange (Bristol)

As a music journalist, I have one of the worst misfortunes ever: my short-term memory is appalling, therefore my music agenda and smart-phone are two essential fellow travelers, despite ending up filled with bilingual notes and barely legible handwriting. After the Maybeshewill set my gig-mates and I tried to piece together the whole experience, setlist included, so this is my brief yet intense first encounter with the band from Leicester.
Our journey started with my first gig at the Exchange, quite an interesting and cosy venue in Bristol, 15 mins from the station, quite easy to miss if you do not pay enough attention to the signs. The main room is quite intimate, so by the time the first act was on stage, there was a small but highly involved audience to enjoy the local group Neoritmo. Despite being less “in line” with the main act’s sound than Gallops, this four-piece really grabbed my attention. Clean vocals, heavy funk-y bass line (Rage against the Machine’s funk) and guitar virtuosity were the main features. However, the sound swung from RHCP’s early funk rock (BSSM) to 70s hard rock, mostly thanks to the guitars – especially the lead guitarist, whose solos were just, wow: I must tip my hat to him. On the other hand, Gallops got the grip with mathy-synth rock, more “Bristolian” in its dub-d&B infused tunes: kind of like Pendulum, yet more poppish. The drums themselves experimented with both jazz and tribal, guitars got electric-vibe adding some spice to the formula.

Maybeshewill got on stage like a squadron, standing with guitars/bass guitar in front of us, ready to explode. In that exact moment I realised the punch of their music, which is hard-hitting and captivating, at least as twice as on CD. Beautiful songs like To the Skies from a Hillside embraced even more power during the musical climax: you know it is coming, but you’d not expect it to be so unpredictable. The contrast between drone-driven, intangible interludes and heavier stormier post-rock jams is inescapable (Critical Distance). On the plus side, those guys on stage are highly passionate, scarily energetic and, by the end of the set, impressively sweaty – which means, they bounced a lot like crazy, despite the little space on stage. The band mixed some new tunes from the latter I was here a moment, then I was gone (such as the opening Take this to heart) and evergreen tracks, slightly heavier and enriched with film samples (like a famous quote from The Verdict in the track Co-conspirators) and the well-known The Paris Hilton Sex Tape. As a final gift to us, the band came back on stage for a long version of the stunning He Films the Clouds pt.II, which I heard there for the first time.
After the show, waiting for my bus, you could see me writing like crazy, filled with beauty and excitement, thankful for such an emotional shake, reminded once again that music may hit you, but it never harms you.