Thursday, 25 March 2010

536 AMERICAN HI-FI, Hell Is For Heroes, Bristol Fleece, Wednesday 14 November 2001

Got tickets for this one on an "adventure" jaunt to Bristol's Area 51 comic shop, and Rachel and I drove down with friends. I was feeling a little unwell as we drove down, but hey, what the hell, it's the Hi-Fi! Kill or cure! Got there just before doors to be surprised by 2 things; a huge crowd (if this wasn't a sell-out, it was pretty close), and a huge tour bus, quite the largest I'd seen in some time. There appears to be some serious money backing the Hi-Fi, no doubt!

Took a wander into the pub next door whilst the crowd outside froze their buttocks waiting for the venue to open, and, after having imbibed, we walked straight in 20 minutes later! Support Hell Is For Heroes came on at 9, and the best thing you could say about their set is that it was mercifully short. Another shouty angry young Nu-Metal band with not a sniff of a tune whatsoever. I dunno, I might be getting old or something, but I really am finding it hard to a) find any artistic value in this neurotic shouty mess, and b) tell one such band from another! Anyway, after their set Rach and I had a wander down the front, stage left, Jamie's side, spotting the holes in the crowd to exploit and really hit right down the front for when the Hi-Fi hit the stage.

American Hi-Fi kept us waiting until 10 past 10 - t'uh, what prima donnas! - but then bounded onstage, already guitarred up, with their usual Monkees-esque enthusiasm and vigour. After the usual, "hi, we're American Hi-Fi and we're a rock'n'roll band from Boston, Massachusetts," (slightly inaccurate of course, as we know Jamie lives in Cambridge!), they power-chorded into opener "Scar", by which time Rach and I were right down the front. By halfway through the opener, both Jamie and Stacy had noticed us in the frantically moshing throng and given us "thumbs up" signs. Cool!

The Hi-Fi have been on the road pretty much all year, in the UK and US, so you'd think by now they'd be a polished, professional and slightly sanitised live act. Not so - tonight they were thrashy, unhinged, and tore into their set with vim and venom, showing scant regard for the safety of their songs. Good thing the songs in question are robust power-chorded powerpop epics, with the "Handle With Care" labels long since faded, as they actually benefitted from this rough treatment. Jamie, with a guitar that actually worked tonight, was a thrash-punk guitarist par excellence, and Stacy the buzz-sawing, leaping lunatic frontman superhero. Highlights were "Hi-Fi Killer", a touching "Another Perfect Day", and a rampant "Flavor Of The Weak", sung word-for-word by the enthusiastic young moshpit.

A great show! And good to catch up with the boys afterwards, as we chatted with Drew, Jamie and Stacy outside their gargantuan tour bus. "I'm playing rock'n'roll with my best friends, what could be better than that?" said Jamie. A fitting conclusion!

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