I made the mistake of reading Rhyannon's review of this gig before embarking on my own. Her use of words intimidates me as I'm usually reduced to short sharp phrases like "Really good." or "Fucking awesome!", but I will try anyway. Mainly because I disagree with her about one of the bands.
First up, Mephisto Grande.
Watching Mephisto Grande is like watching two circus carny's who've spent most of their lives listening to blues and Tom Waits' "Black Rider" album. Not surprisingly this sounds like nothing else in Oxford at this, or possibly any, moment. The two of them are clearly very good musicians too which helps. I'm desperatly trying to use a phrase more imaginative than "They were fucking awesome!", but I can't think of one.
Next up, The Great Eskimo Hoax.
Watching The Great Eskimo Hoax is like watching 3 boys who've bought the Big Book Of Math-Rock Cliches, studied it cover to cover and just reproduced every word they read. Somewhere along the line they bought the Postal Service album, and decided to bring that to the table aswell. The result is an incredibly uninspiring and boring experience as math-rock cliche after math-rock cliche are regurgetated to form a hideously dull whole. A big sack of cliches and tweeness. Like watching a school play. Only worse.
I will mention that for the most part the crowd seemed to be enjoying it. I had to go away and sit down at a table. I did start drunkenly heckling them, but coz I was at a table by myself, the only people who actually heard me where Dave & Tricia who were sitting at another table trying not to pay attention to the band.
Last up, Jonquil.
I loved Jonquil's "Sunny Casinos", but had always been a little disappointed with them live. Don't get me wrong, they were always good, they just didn't grab me like the album had.
Thursday was different though. I don't know if it's because they've played a lot more together now, or if they've changed anything in how they play/perform, but on Thursday they were amazing. A beautiful set of dreamy modern folk songs, culminating in the twisted sea shanty singalong of "Lions", everyone bellowing the lyrics out as loud as they could. A wonderful way to end the show. Everyone smiling. Elated.
And then came more booze. Oh dear.