Press to Meco
Venue: Jumpin’ Jacks, Newcastle upon Tyne
Date: 27th November 2017
There is nothing that will make you re-evaluate your choices in life than strolling through Newcastle in the dark, bastard freezing because you don’t understand how weather works, on your way to a bar that you think has gotten too lofty expectations of itself, but it was okay because I was off to see Press To Meco.
Allow me to explain. Jumpin’ Jacks as a venue confused me because I had never heard of it and I thought I was aware of all of the venues in the city. As it turns out, it is the upstairs room of the Dog and Parrot pub, somewhat ironically a place that I have played gigs before. I’m sorry but if you have to go downstairs and through the bar downstairs to get to the toilet you are not an independent venue.
The bar itself is one I avoid as much as possible, the music is good, the look of the place is spot on, but it’s galling to know that the same pint of beer is £1.50 cheaper about 200 yards down the street, but I couldn’t be buggered to go back out into the cold. Given that the bar staff didn’t know what was happening upstairs and couldn’t tell me what time the bands were starting I thought it best not to take the risk.
The support band for the gig were known as Weak Daze, at least, this is what I understood from the makeshift merch table, I’m not sure they ever introduced themselves or said the name of their band from the stage. As a band they were impressive. The songs were well rehearsed and performed, the only issue I have with the tracks in general was that they didn’t seem to know how to end them without an annoying amount of droning feedback and then a sudden stop as the lead guitarist kicked off his effects pedal. Then ending the last song with an explosion of feedback from all of the instruments at once as the guitarist turned up all of the knobs on his effects pedal. This was done with such a lack of performance, that I wasn’t sure if they had finished or whether they had all decided to give up on the song altogether and start packing up before the feedback ended.
That was the only major criticism I have with this band. If I stood round the corner so I couldn’t see the stage, or if I closed my eyes, they sounded very good. Their tracks are enjoyable and well worth a listen. However the visual of the band betrays what, I hope, is a lack of experience in performing live.
For the majority of the gig the band spent almost all of their time looking at the drummer and facing away from the audience. As a result the audience was flat and mostly disinterested. The only participation that they had was once between songs when they spoke with some of their friends at the front. I think if they wish to grow a fanbase they will have to make more of an effort in connecting with people who are there to see them. I mean, how else will they get anyone to seek them out in future?
Of course maybe I’m wrong, maybe there are some underlying in-group politics that we don’t know about. Perhaps there is a love struggle going on between the other members of the band for the affection of the drummer – he is a rather good looking man. Perhaps once this sexual tension is resolved then the audience will be more worthy of their time and affection!
Press To Meco took the stage to some ambient walk out music, which is a great effect in a larger space, where you can walk out in darkness from the side of the stage and explode into your set. It isn’t quite so useful under glaring stage lights as you make your way slowly out of a side door halfway down the room and have to push your way past people to get to the stage, especially when we all saw you sound check about 2 minutes earlier, it all seems a bit forced rather than epic.
That being said the guitars were heavy, the timing was tight and there was a small room full of people determined to stand stoically still as you played your music. Press to Meco were a welcome relief almost instantly for the crowd; at least they were facing in the right direction. The harmonies from the vocals are quality and work very well in a live setting. The harmonies had been one of the things that I didn’t think were presented well on their first album ‘Good Intent‘.
There are clear influences from Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy in their songs and their performance, with much more high energy movement and obvious enthusiasm from the band members as they played. If that wasn’t sign enough of a band that loves what they do, then the Osmond’s like grin plastered on each of their faces may have carried it for you.
The songs are catchy and there is definitely enough about this band for me to want to give the album a second chance (apparently the second album was supposed to be released before this tour but has been delayed for some mysterious reason which is never explained by the band). Their set is well co-ordinated, the songs fit together nicely and when there was a break between songs, the band used this time to engage further with the audience, getting them to move forward, sing along and making them part of the show. They have the confidence and stage presence of a band that should be in a much bigger room.
The stoic crowd lasted until the first chorus of the second song before head bobbing, lip biting and slow whole body twisting signalled the end of the statuesque theme that they were going for and they had to quietly accept that they were going to enjoy this gig.
There is something special about live gigs and it’s something that I think is coming back to a lot of people’s attention. The recordings will never do justice to the band themselves, they are almost always (if the band is worth any of your time at all) much better live than they are on an album, especially if that album is in mp3 format and being played through small headphones.
Press to Meco are no exception, rather they are one of the bands that confirm what we always suspected. I can only hope that this translates to a huge live following for them and continued success.