(IamHop — A big thanks to BC for sending us this great report of a recent Vessels show he attended!)
Vessels are carrying out an experiment, they say.
Tonight, for the very first time on a stage anywhere, they are abandoning the majority of their
guitars in favor of a multitude of synths and a laptop. They’re not entirely sure how it will go, and
neither are we. Fingers crossed.
In another bold move, their set tonight includes, for the first time, a pair of covers, one of which
opens the show. Their cover of a remix of Nathan Fake’s ‘The Sky Was Pink’ pulses and throbs
and rattles the walls of the compact cellar venue. I had expected this to be punishing live, having
heard the recorded version on their website, and I am not disappointed. ‘Monoform’ follows, and is
greeted with howls of enthusiasm from the crowd. It suits their new kidney-disturbingly loud hypno-
synth sound, and everybody is happy.
We are starting to notice a troubling and unidentified crackling/hissing noise, as if some part of their
kit is on fire. Nobody can find the source, but there is no smoke, so they press on regardless with a
new song, ‘Myopic Biopic’ and the second cover, Modeselektor’s ‘Blue Clouds’. It’s all going down
well, but I am starting to feel a tad uneasy. The guitars, previously such a major part of the Vessels
live sound, are relegated to a supporting role. The synths dominate. Even the famous second drum
kit is reduced to snare, hi-hat and a drum pad.
Two ‘greatest hits’ next, ‘Later Than You Think’ and ‘Happy Accident’, and two more new
songs, ‘Attica’ and the bizarrely titled ‘Runting Grumbar’. As we approach the end, technology
decides to finish early and the laptop packs up. It all stumbles to an awkward close. The band are
apologetic, they fill in with some amusing banter, and the crowd doesn’t really mind. After all, it was
their first attempt at this, and where there are computers, there are glitches.
Personally, I am left feeling a little disappointed. Make no mistake, it’s fine stuff, it’s all done
extremely well, and the audience loves it, but I miss the old Vessels. The one with guitars, and songs.
I know that, as artists, they are free to do what they want, they don’t owe me anything, and if they
want to head off in a new direction, that’s fine. But I’m just not sure I want to follow them.