Sunday 24th November, 2002

The Citrus Bar, Edinburgh, SCOTLAND.

The reputation of Laeto's ability to rock hard precedes them and a certain truth in the rumours are evident tonight. The boys are certainly interesting enough to watch happily, but the indifference in that statement far outweighs the compliment and is so offensive to what it is they try to do. By trying too hard to grasp an air of reckless abandonment, they lose the relevance of simply letting go. They have to learn that abandonment can't be sought, it has to come naturally to mean anything.

Perhaps it was the thick air of excitement that hung over Aereogramme's only fourth ever Edinburgh gig that weighed down their performance. They are a band that take you by surprise - the friendly, natural banter they hold with the audience holds nothing in comparison to the utter rage that emanates from singer Craig B when he really goes for it.   It's true, his screams are not the best executed, but the realness and honesty that this represents makes a far more important message to any young pretenders: distortion, crash cymbals and a lot of bass does not make heavy music and they know it. It is the intensity and the true desire to maim your instrument that is real heaviness.    The band's new fourth member (and a  difficult man to track down the name of, let me tell you) also brings a noticeable depth to their sound. Craig's frustrated disobedience of the confines of music in his uncontrollable desire to rock complements perfectly the depth of his neo-classical vision.

Alas, the show must go on and Aereogramme leave the stage for us to welcome headliners Cave In. I was previously only aware of Cave In from scattered songs on various free CD's I'd got hold of.  Well two actually, but the excitement and intrigue that their music prompts was by far enough to convince me to attend their gig. Their songs may not be particularly complicated, but their beauty lies in how they play them in exactly the way they want, be it their almost stoner-rock tendencies of swirling grooves, repeated and repeated until you can't help but be drawn in by them, or their unapologetic emphasis on the simplest of things - a simple snare rhythm, perhaps, left solely to carry the whole weight of the song.

So, I had gathered the image of a rather dark and certainly serious band in my head.  To be greeted to a bunch of such bright-eyed, young students was another surprise, but not a disappointment.  This was to be a feel-good gig - nothing more sinister as I had expected.  They harmonise such airy melodies over their (cliché I know) spacey guitar and atmospheric effects, you can't help the dream-like state that washes over you (and wouldn't want to) as you watch them.  This is unfortunately, the only real connection they hold with the audience tonight, though. Fresh from their arena tour of Britain supporting the Foos, they express their joy at playing a place they can actually see the faces of their audience once again. Yet the way they stare to the back wall of the tiny venue as they tell us all this is a contradiction in terms of their body language. They avoid eye contact like Iraq, and his cringe-worthy attempt at a chat with an audience member is horrible to watch in its awkwardness.   Maybe this means they are destined for bigger things. The way in which the calm guitarist looks over to a contorting front man, to then attempt the same himself as if reminded he must be rocking out is also the sort of thing that puts dampers on gigs for me.

Typically, it is left to the last song to completely rock out - complete with the mowing down of mic stands with the singer's guitar - which is always good to watch, but the predictability of an unconsciously choreographed show is unimpressive. The band are already looking worryingly practised in their onstage mannerisms, but perhaps fresh from an arena tour it is only to be expected. Lets hope we can still get them back.

Alasdair Reid

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