The fortunes of venues, particularly it seems in Guernsey, often go up and down as the live music scenes shifts and changes and, for a decade from around 2008 The Fermain Tavern (historically a hot bed of music on the island) had been the place to be for both local and visiting artists.
A couple of years ago however this changed with fewer and fewer shows taking place there and the venue as a whole losing the feeling it once had as the premier venue in the island as other places upped their games (notably St James and The Vault) while The Tav was left feeling, at best, tired and confused.
That said, after nine months of not visiting the venue, I was looking forward to L’Islet Records latest event taking place there on Saturday 14th August 2021, with Granite Wolf, Coastal Fire Dept, The Rock ‘N’ Roll Disaster and Elliot Albert Orchard (originally the night had been due to feature a visiting band from the UK as well but the ongoing situation with COVID-19 put paid to that for now).
Rounding off a busy week that started with Dan Ashplant’s album launch and continued with a full band show at The Vault, Elliot Albert Orchard (along with Callum Moores) kicked things off with their brand of soulful, acoustic based, indie.
As I noted last week Elliot seems to have found how to best use his voice and, with Callum’s electric guitar work, has taken his music to a new level and that was more than evident again here.
While this show, by the nature of the venue, lacked the sense of intimacy that really makes his music shine this was still a fine performance from Orchard and fit the supposed ‘heavy’ theme of the night at least in terms of its level of melancholy (though never one that becomes depressing).
The motley collection that are The Rock ‘N’ Roll Disaster upped the energy next, embracing their own chaos with a mix of garage punk ‘n’ roll that teetered on the edge of a shambles in the best of ways.
While the crowd stayed distant, sticking to the shadows in the way they often do in this space, the band gave it their all with two of the three Marks on stage (Le Gallez and Guppy) leading the charge and clearly having a terrific time doing so in a way that was really infectious.
With Le Gallez clad in leopard print trousers, snakeskin boots and a shiny gold shirt he came across as something like Lux Interior’s bass playing brother as he stalked around the venue mid set (while still playing) while the band as whole brought a kind of energy and feeling you usually only see from people in their first bands, but backed up with, to be a polite, a greater level of experience evident too.
Highlights of the set came with their closing pair, one written by the band’s third Mark, aka Wiggy, and then the rather excellently direct Shit Girlfriend/Shit Boyfriend that by rights should get crowds jumping and has a classic quality like some of Le Gallez’s work in The Risk, Sacred Hearts, Thee Jenerators, et al.
Taking to the stage after a surprising easy listening break Coastal Fire Dept roared out of the gates and didn’t look back at a startling volume.
Bringing the crowd forward almost right away the band sounded great and appeared more relaxed on stage than ever and it was clear their original songs have started to really get into the heads of their audience with newer ones like Gun and Fuck The Scene particularly standing out and upcoming single What I Do looking like it could soon follow.
While they may not have been quite as tight as usual, with the force of nature that is Ozzy Austin behind the drums powering the band’s energy, meant this didn’t matter and it was great to see them get the dancefloor of the Tav busy again.
Definitely the band who most lived up to the night’s title, Granite Wolf were last up and unleashed an onslaught of groove laden metalcore for the best part of an hour.
While the dynamic of the venue took a little bit of getting used to again compared to the band’s more recent outings at The Vault, they weren’t fazed and seemed, if anything, even more energised and vicious than ever.
With the announcement of the release of their debut EP coming up in November they played a trio of new songs from it to close the set which brought the highlights with a more full and intricate sound that cut through the sonic barrage and at points made me think of Mastodon leaving me very excited to hear the record and ending the night with a great feeling of things to come.
I did leave wondering though when might be the next time I’ll be back at The Fermain Tavern…