earthtone9 Logo


Vacant Stare
and Dai Lo

Friday 7th July, 2000 - Old Angel, Nottingham, ENGLAND.
This is a venue that I have never been to before and I didn't really know what to expect.  Basically a pub with an upstairs gig room that is very well equipped.  This place is pretty small (125 max) and very loud.  The size makes it almost impossible to get a bad view of the bands (unless you can't get in the room, that is). 

On arrival and once equipped with a glass of nasty alcoholic beverage, I noticed the earthtone boys sitting in a corner of the bar.  I wandered over to see selected members tucking into a hearty meal of sausage and mash so I did not want to disturb them too much.  Oz (guitar) wasn't eating so I struck up a conversation with him, he's a really nice bloke and we talked about stuff ranging from the European tour they have recently completed, their newly recorded album and the fact that today was his birthday.

Later after replenishing my glass with more of the most unpleasant liquid, I was surprised but delighted to have Karl (vocals) come and say hello.   We had a varied conversation and he hinted at some nice opportunities for the band in the near future.  However, the music was about to start....

The opening band of the evening was the excellent Vacant Stare.  They gave their all in a outstanding exhibition of enthusiasm.   The vocalist (Manning) was a total lunatic, bouncing around the stage, jumping and climbing onto anything that it was physically possible to ascend, invading the crowd and performing individually to almost each and every one of us.  The five piece offered us a massive slice of swift chugging hardcore of the more straight forward variety, extreme and exciting, impressive and imposing, raw power and attitude.  They included each of the songs from their three track demo EP (available from PO Box 5843, Colchester, CO1 2WY England 5 inc p&p, cash only), personal favourites being "Prognosis" and "Come Face Up" which are two excellent examples of their style and aggression.  I thoroughly enjoyed their set, send out a big 'thank you' for the performance and wish them well.

I was however surprised to see them opening, as they are far more entertaining and better known than the second band of the evening, a group of locals called Dai Lo.  I have never heard of them before, but they did attract quite a reasonable indigenous following which I think was the reason for their middle billing.  After the short and nervous five song set, their traditional sound and almost unvarying appearance, for some reason gave a lasting impression of 'cloned skinheads playing Black Sabbath'.  They were fine, but left me without any appetite to know or see more.

.... Earthtone9....

"Your a top crowd. Can't you tell by our accents, that we're from around here?"

earthtone9 - click to enlarge
....receive the revelation beaten on a skin drum....
As each member of the band take their positions, the instruments stir.  Initially the pops and squeaks of their early awakening, slowly become more moans and squeals, then to bangs, growls and snarls, before a howl of feedback that indicates the beginning of their real intentions.  "off kilter" washes through you and as it does the piercing intonation is absorbed.

And the entrancement begins....

earthtone9 - Oz - click to enlargeearthtone9 - Karl - click to enlargeearthtone9 - Joe - click to enlarge
The offensive had began using attack as the best form of defence with an unknown sound ripping around us.  The gathering seemed not that of the resident horde and after the initial volley fire it seemed only to be increasingly mesmerised.

The inclusion of something reassuringly familiar looked to console some thinking they knew the strategy,

until a savage thrust and the sharp edge of something new turned into a hand baring thorned roses. 

The auditory assault of "tat twam asi" and "grind & click" powered out, a wall of sonic arrows penetrating anything it could seek.

Between blitzkrieg there was little respite as the moans and squeals continued to growl and snarl, but one could already sense the impending conclusion and the gruesome post campaign chaos, as the shell shocked victims were becoming apparent.

More new weapons were being produced initially with "evil crawling i" and these feeble powerless victims found themselves helpless in defence against them.  Just when a immunity seem to be forming, there would be mutation and it would attack again.  Twice more they came with new metamorphosis.

It was eventually "i nagual eye" and the last howls of feedback that signalled glory after eight waves of attack.  And then as the anger subsided and the pops and squeaks quickly decayed to nothing,  the instruments again became motionless, as the assailants fled.

earthtone9 - Karl - click to enlarge
Afterward, when it was all over and the familiar sound of the birds singing returned, the natural balance of things seemed to comfort those that survived....
....paths been chosen....

earthtone9 - click to enlarge

This music is not just a simple heads down thrash through verse, bridge, chorus.  Sure, there are songs and times within songs that this occurs, but it is not the singular element.  There are mixtures of beats, tempos and rhythms.  There are changes in pace and attitude.  Sometimes restrained meandering, sometimes harmonious, other times full-on vocals and massive metal violence, and that can be within one song!  It is this subtle side, often hidden behind an opaque curtain, that confuses many crowds who may be expecting something more ........ straight forward ......  This, I think, is what makes earthtone9 what they are, but it may also be the very thing that distances them from the people they are trying to reach.
earthtone9 - Oz - click to enlarge
Go out, buy the albums and listen to their music, get to know it and then see them live.  You wont regret it, it's a real experience of intensity, an aural mountain of sound, a mountain that once conquered, you understand just how worthwhile it was and you want some more.

....then the entrancement is complete.


Note:  All live pictures of the band are the property of Rigsby and may only be used with prior permission.

[ BACK ]   [ MAIN ]