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Skylight, Aether, [Lost] Whelans 03/11/05

It may have just been my imagination but getting into the recent Skylight gig at Whelans was a slightly more disconcerting experience than getting into almost any major label artist's club show.

Outside the venue crestfallen, late-teen lonliness could be seen amassing at he door as those who didn't have their ID were sullenly moping around pondering their next move and those that did were protesting with an unbelieving doorman.

It could have just been my heightened levels of paranoia, I suppose (note to self - reading Bret Easton Ellis novels while consuming bottles of a well-known alcopop may not be the best preparation for reviewing a gig). Myself and my mate weren't sure whether we should be
pleased or aggravated at not being ID'd ourselves. As I stepped into the venue, my way was blocked by said doorman - "You know that there's a cloakroom for that bag upstairs, right?", he said indicating my napsack.
He worded this in such a manner that I was left under no illusions that the infinitely healthier option would be to leave the bag upstairs,
although this all seemed very hardcore. I began thinking about what kind of gig this actually was.

I mean, what, are Skylight some kind of metal band whose fans are notorious for bringing knives into a venue or something? My worries were dispelled upon entry as the familiar crowd of painfully middle-class indie kids and hipsters congregated at the bar. Moving down to the floor of the venue, I was relieved to catch sight of my own demographic (that being a species of sad, music-obsessed loner who has fuck all else to do on a weeknight).

Of the three bands playing - Aether, [Lost] and Skylight, I was familiar only with [Lost]. As Aether took to the stage, they reminded me
visually of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. This impression was vaporised as soon as they began playing. Intricate guitar lines and gently splashing drums tumbled from the stage as Aether played a melodic, post-rock set. Explosions In The Sky are an influence here with that band's signature clear guitar lines weaving their way in and out of bright, snappy beats. The second song was reminiscent of something off At The Drive-In's Vaya EP. For such an evidently young band, Aether displayed a surpisingly confident grasp of dynamics but the real problem is that there were no melodies or passages of song that stood out. It was all pleasant enough, but somewhat pointless. The set closer redeemed them, however. While the brilliant Animatrix episode "The Second Renaissance Part II" played on a screen above them, the band slowly erupted into cascading sheets of noise that, at times, felt as if they could lift the roof off the venue.

I first saw [Lost] at the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival in 2004. Back then, they played on the Friday night in the Hub and eclipsed every other bunch of no-hopers that happened to be along for the ride. That night they were tight, punchy and invigorating but were hamstrung by a massive musical and visual debt to Muse. Everything, from the
computerised guitar sounds to the vocalist's histrionics, sounded in some way derivative of Matt Bellamy's outfit. Watching them now, a year on, it's clear that they've done as much as possible to shed the Muse image. Possibly underwhelmed by the relatively unenthusiastic and half-empty audience, their performance seems a little bloodless and by-the-numbers. There's a good band here, but they're just going through the motions tonight. There's still plenty to admire about them - future single
"Pattern In The Static" ticks all the right commercial boxes and the guitarist drags up some weird and wonderful sounds from his Ibanez. The set closer No Reflection is good too but you can't help but feel there's still much for [Lost] to do.

The headline act arrive with an announcement that, no, there are no CDs to be given out tonight. Which is a bit of a downer all told.
Suddenly the stage is illuminated in a barrage of light and Skylight strike up an introduction that, astonishingly, sounds like Billy Joel's
classic "Goodnight Saigon", which I'm sure is unintentional. The opener is a plaintive, delicate instrumental that is unfortunately dogged by technical difficulties, mich to the evident chagrin of the band. The sense
of nervousness carries into the next song as the band try to sort things out. Although a number of things are becoming evident - the music Skylight are playing is refreshingly esoteric and musical, incorporating
violin and piano into the mix. Also, the band boast an excellent drummer who displays an imaginative and creative use of his instrument
throught. On the third song, the band burst into life and finally look a bunch of people to whom music means everything. From here, their performance takes off. Tempo shift and inventive, dynamic rhythms cascade from the speakers as Skylight fire epic, melodic missives straight from the heart. Pinning them down is difficult (a good sign), but they most
closely resemble Wilco via Mercury Rev, Explosions In The Sky and Hope Of The States. The fourth and third-last songs let them down a little, as they begin to lose their identity somewhat. The arrival of the
upcoming single "Death And Taxes" reverses this trend. It's a gorgeously melodic piece that towers above most of what has been played tonight. The impassioned, epic closer also turns out to be a powerful beast that thrashes its way out of the traps. What impressed me most about Skylight is their reluctance to sit still. Every song boasts shifts in time
signature or tempo, while acoustic and electric guitars blend beautifully in the mix.

Plenty of people will probably tell you about how Dublin is currently witnessing its best "scene" for years with hordes of great bands like The Urges, Mainline, The Things, Humanzi et al garnering massive music industry attention. Want to know a secret? They're all terrible. Skylight seem all the more important compared to them. It's refreshing to find a band who owe nothing to the boring, cliched rock posturing of those bands and genuinely wish to push the envelope as far as can be
pushed. Skylight deserve your attention.

Never let anyone tell you different.

This is Serbia Calling, signing off......

Review written by: Review by BobDeicide -- davescan@yahoo.com

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