LIVE REVIEW: In The Cards @ Live Rooms, Chester – 19th September 2019

Across The Tracks is a monthly event held at The Live Rooms with the aim to support local and touring bands. This month sees alt-rockers In The Cards headline ahead of the release of their new EP, The Path. The quartet see support from alt-rockers Hollow Lane and Thunder And The Giants.

Hailing from Liverpool, Thunder And The Giants (6) open the evening with an energetic set. Their sound has a strong pop-punk feel to it merging with aspects of alternative rock. The vocals have a strong edge to them, wandering into a shouting style at various points. This and the frequent use of feedback from the guitars are the main contributors to their pop-punk edge. It gives their performance a rougher edge which works well with the style of the tracks. The guitar feedback does feel a bit overused across the set on the whole. Depending on how well it is controlled, the screeching sound can draw too much attention away from the quality of the music. The band do have a good stage presence. Their friendly demeanour, and chatting with the crowd, gives the performance a more personal feel. The quartet deliver a good set with dynamic energy levels and a fun atmosphere.

Hollow Lane (6) are next to take to the stage. Following the high energy of Thunder And The Giants, the five-piece from Cheshire bring a different atmosphere with their sound. Their alternative rock guitars and bass produce an interesting sound along side their use of keys. A range of sounds on the keys, from electronic organ-like effects to synth sounds replicating those of the ’80s, fills out their sound. The unique vocals add extra texture to the music. At times, their tracks wander into the realm of progressive rock. Interesting chord sequences and musical development in a number of bridge sections creates a good effect. Hollow Lane are off to a good start with the quality of their song-writing at this early stage in their career. A few refinements in their use of keys and tailoring their synth sounds to complement the other instrumentation will elevate their sound further. Also homing in on their direction and focusing on the best pitch range will polish their performance further. The vocals, on one or two occasions, begin to sound strained. The quintet give a strong performance and it will be interesting to see how they progress.

Headliners In The Cards (8) give a great performance. Their set includes a range of heavier and lighter tracks. This change in energy levels enhances the dynamics and range of their sound. Their professional set up, including atmospheric intervals between tracks enhances the performance. Their sound is strong throughout. Amy’s lead vocals are incredibly powerful and soar above the energetic instrumentation. She introduces an emotive element to their music through her voice. Their guitar and bass tones complement each track brilliantly. Their distorted bass tone, in particular, is just delicious. Mixing older and newer tracks, it’s great to see how their sound is evolving. Their set includes Mazes released in 2016 through to their latest single Disguise.

It’s great to see smaller bands performing and bringing unique music into the local scene. They all deliver performances of good quality. It’s also interesting to see three alternative rock bands who take very different approaches to their music.

Words by Holly Royle

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