SCAMS – Monto Water Rats, Aug 31st

 First time in Monto Water Rats despite being aware of the venue for some time – London promoters have got it good when the “cheap” list weighs in at £6 and £8 for regular punters. Yes, their costs must be a little higher but come on why kill a live music venue with sky-high door prices? Especially when a venue has good traction for emerging bands playing. If a healthy split from admissions was finding it’s way back to the bands then fair enough but I didn’t get that impression. That’s London though; and gigs are all priced against each other so until one promoter manages to bring it down then it will remain the same…

Nevertheless the demand for upcoming bands is evident here as the 150 capacity space started to fill nicely. Many people here wanting to hear a new band! Well I guess we are in the English capital but then again if Manchester has so much musical heritage then why doesn’t it always work in the same way? If you put GOOD bands on then people WILL LISTEN. 

And here was what turned out to be a much MORE THAN GOOD band setting up right in front of me with their artistically touched guitar amps, cabs and instruments that appeared to have been hand painted with thought provoking imagery. This was the kind of initial mystique creating a real curiosity amongst the audience and generating a thirst to find out more…

The band in question was SCAMS from Chester. What a performance! Their clean-cut image compliments their calypso guitar riffs so well you don’t know whether you are watching or listening at times. This fits nicely with the current flow of sounds coming from the likes of Vampire Weekend without ripping them in any way. Scams have their own unique creative branding and to have this kind of mastery on your instrument takes years of solid practice; which is clearly evident here!

Some vocal pitching mishaps slipped through the net but this frontman was clearly caught in his own humane deliverance that it needn’t matter what sharps/flats were being ejected from his mouth. During a live show I think these sorts of minor mistakes do SOMETIMES add to the performance when done in a state of delirium. The backing vocals padded the sound out well and helped bring out the dynamics of the songs. This is something I keep telling bands is massively important. Most people love to hear vocals more than instruments – it’s the closest they can get to connecting with that real emotion in your song. Always think about backing vox when your chorus needs to sound bigger.

The highlight of the set was a moment of insanity when the room suddenly filled with four part harmonies as the crowd joined in and the band merged in to the audience creating a blissful moment that I don’t think anyone in the room wanted to end!

Sonically their live sound was excellent (house PA could do with a quick service though) and it’s not common to find bands like this who have such self-belief and outstanding confidence. You don’t feel you are straining to watch the next live band on the bill but effortlessly experiencing a genuine performance and they look like they’re having fun with it just doing their thing. 


@ Copper Face Jack’s

Fri Oct 15th

Scams – 9.45pm

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