Not many groups who make it to the big time in the music industry stick to their roots and come back to play in tiny intimate venues – Slaves recently announced their Back in the Van Tour, which has seen the duo visit a range of small pubs and clubs over the past few weeks. Tickets for the tour unsurprisingly sold out in less than half an hour, and luckily I managed to snap up 2 for their show at Cafe Indiependent – I knew a great night was waiting for me!
Cool Cafe Indiependent
The first impression I get from a gig venue is a big factor which influences whether I enjoy the rest of the night or not – Cafe Indiependent has a warm and friendly atmosphere, helped by its informal feel created by comfy couches and coffee benches placed all over the cafe. You can sit on a couch upstairs and still hear live music as clear as it would sound of you are watching it in the crowd!
The stage layout is pretty standard for a gig venue, but due to its small capacity you can still stand right at the back of the room and still feel close to the music! There is also a set of stairs right next to the stage, allowing small concertgoers like myself to have a clear view of all the action on stage! I cannot fault the venue, and I’d like to see more small and larger groups play at the venue in the future!
Sometimes at gigs the support acts are nothing special and leave me impatiently waiting for the main beast to arrive on stage – Mannequin Death Squad and ESTRONS buckled that trend! Admittedly, I hadn’t heard any songs from either before their sets, but the energy both bands gave off lit up the stage and the crowd were energetic throughout the time both bands played!
The first support, Mannequin Death Squad, are a duo like Slaves and are from Melbourne! They have come over to the UK for their own headline tour and actually had planned to book to play at Cafe Indiependent on the 17th, but Slaves got hold of the date before then! The lads kindly let Mannequin Death Squad play their set at Scunthorpe regardless, and it was a fantastic decision as they blew my mind! By the end of each song they performed I knew the hook of each song and they stayed in my head after the show, and remembering a hook is a mark of a catchy infectious band!
My friend felt unwell so we sat upstairs through most of the set from the second support act, ESTRONS, but I managed to catch a couple of songs from towards the end of their set and I could not fault their energy! I wasn’t as sold on the band as I had been straight away with Mannequin Death Squad, but by the end of their set the group, who are currently based in Cardiff, had won me over! The music industry in parts, especially in rock and alternative genres, can be perceived as being quite male dominated, so it was encouraging to watch two thrilling support acts who had totally badass female members killing it on the stage!
The way I review the main acts at a gig is to give them a score out of 5 for several different criteria, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 the highest:
- Quality of vocals
For anyone who has never listened to Slaves, the group have a unique sound which is reminiscent of the 70s punk scene, and perhaps the closest band I could compare Slaves to is Sleaford Mods. Isaac, the duo’s main vocalist, performed his vocals amazingly and every word was clear and you could clearly make out everything he was saying, which is crucial at a concert, especially when new songs are performed! Backing vocals were solid from Laurie, who plays the guitar in the duo. Vocals sounded virtually identical to the recorded versions of their songs – due to this I will give Slaves full marks in the vocals section (5 out of 5!)
- Instruments and energy of the set
Impressive vocals are one important aspect of playing an incredible live set, but without instruments creating a strong electric vibe, vocals alone cannot make a band amazing live! Fortunately Slaves totally brought it with Issac’s passionate and hardcore drumming skills and Laurie’s talent on the guitar. The buzz from their instrument playing hyped up everyone and I believe there wasn’t a song where the crowd weren’t moshing! I will give Slaves a strong 4 out of 5 in this section!
- Interaction with the crowd
Artists are Jake Bugg and Sia are unfaultable singers, but lack in crowd charisma! Nothing is worse than when a band just turns up to a sing and hardly communicates with the crowd throughout the set. Slaves constantly talked to us in between songs, and even joined in with the crowd’s chant of ‘Up the Irons’ (as a local I know the Irons is the nickname for their local League 1 football team). Two or three times Issac couldn’t resist jumping into the crowd to the delight of us all, and Laurie high fives the lucky people right at the front of the crowd. They even took consideration of the smaller lasses at the front potentially being squashed by the moshing, so politely asked the crowd to step back slightly, reaffirming the duo’s place as some of the nicest guys in rock! Again, I will give Slaves another 5 out of 5!
- The set itself
Slaves had the right mixture of new songs from their upcoming album ‘Take Control’, and old crowdpleasers such as ‘Hey’ and ‘Wow!7am’. I knew most of their set word by word but it was awesome hearing how awesome their newer material sounds live. Issac and Laurie played for around 45 minutes – I was slightly gutted with the length of their set as I was not ready to stop moshing yet! They missed out a few older tracks such as ‘Feed the Mantarray’, but for a ticket price of less than £2, I can hardly complain. For that, I will give Slaves a 3.5 out of 5.
- Overall Rating
In total, I have given Slaves a score of 17.5 out of 20 – there was virtually not a single part of their set that I did not like; I appreciate that the length of the set was as long as it was to fit in both support acts, but I would’ve loved the performance to have gone on longer! I have tickets to see them at Rock City at November so the set should be longer then. I would even go as far as saying Slaves are better live than they are on their CDs!
Was I satisfied by Slaves last night? Yes, very very satisfied!