Live review: Wake The President at King Tut’s, 16/9/11

Wake the President’s play Tut’s in the middle of a more extensive tour promoting October’s release of their new album Zumutung!, which identifies a more soulful and slow-burning sound for the band.

With less youthful, bloodhound musos sniffing out their latest aural benchmark than expected, there is almost immediately a nostalgic feel to the gig and the crowd. Talk in the front bar of festivals, made up of property developers and jeans and shirt affairs, adds to this somewhat.

After eavesdropping the music kicks off with Fiction Faction, who prove an excellent choice to get things started. They endure a rather solemn set up before getting into their first song with vim and vigour. The vocals provide a full and rich sound with a smooth, post-production feel. There are shades of Robert Smith at the very outset of the gig and the band make an upbeat and interesting sound.

Initial sound level factors, which lead to the bass becoming overbearing, are resolved as the set moves on and the vocal performance becomes more relaxed with the lead and rhythm guitar combination working off each other effectively. An excellent cover of Haddaway’s 1993 hit ‘What Is Love?’ follows the trend for re-working nineties ‘waltzer classics’ and highlight the band’s potential.

Next on are all-girl act Maximum Bob who, I was reliably informed, are playing their first gig. The band start out in a slow laid back fashion with lazy beats and sparse guitar. There are, for the briefest moments, hints of a drawling, loping sound reminiscent of the strung out New York 60’s scene, however these moments seem more serendipitous than planned and are gone as quickly as they arrive.

The dynamic of the band is an unusual one and it is interesting to see a downbeat girl band trying to give some varied, almost post-punk stylising. The end result is a little unpolished and the various sounds don’t quite work together to produce a complete performance, possibly due to a lack of live experience.

With the whole venue suitably well oiled and filled, Wake The President hit the stage with expectation high. The popular Glasgow act, led by twin brothers Eric and Bjorn Sandberg have carved a niche providing melodic, retrospective tunes.

The band exudes a sense of confidence bolstered by the great reaction from those present. An upbeat and high impact intro, founded on some major key lead lines get the crowd going and enable the band to show off a tight and well-crafted sound from the outset.

As the set progresses the nostalgic feel resurfaces, with multiple influences from the Brit-pop era and Postcard records icons shining through.  Echoes of Orange Juice snake through, suggesting the Postcard records act influence WTP both musically and aesthetically, neck-high guitars included. The jingling high-end sounds of the aforementioned act are tempered somewhat by WTP, adding some heavier traces of distortion and effect in the later guitar work.

Newer tracks help provide a shift in musical style and the sound is dramatically updated. More contemporary references are on show with elements of Arcade Fire creeping into an expansive sound, mirroring the shift heard in their latest release. There is a nice sense of haunting distance in Sandberg’s composed vocal performance, backed up by recurring waves of melodic theme.

This particular set does not impact as heavily as it maybe will do in future, but it matches initial expectation and with the band playing instinctively giving the crowd what they require while still showing signs of development.

Words: Joe Leightley
Photos: Stewart Fullerton

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