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22 April 2007

Under the Boardwalk, Sheffield: 20th April 2007

On Friday night, we visited Sheffield’s Under the Boardwalk. As far as live music venues go, UTB (as it is sometimes called) is quite a strange place. Most venues usually start off empty when the first band is playing and then get gradually busier as the night goes on. UTB is the complete opposite. We arrived just before 9PM and there were quite a few people there. Around an hour and a half and two bands later, the place had almost emptied. Maybe the audience hated the first two bands. Or perhaps they’d gone upstairs to The Boardwalk. Either way, I’d recommend that anyone thinking of playing there should try to get an early spot rather than a headlining one!

We’d gone to support Bolton’s Out Of The Gray embark on their UK tour, as I mentioned back in February. For an unsigned band to take time out from their day jobs and invest their own cash to go on a national tour for several weeks takes guts. Yarky (lead guitar) said in a recent interview:

I think we’ll be spending the best part of a thousand pounds on petrol and accommodation for the tour, then there’s the initial outlay on merchandise, and there’s really no guarantee of making any of it back. It’s hard for people to understand that when you’re doing this as an unsigned band you’re generally losing money hand over fist – everyone wants to come in for free or get a free copy of the album, and sometimes you just have to learn to say ‘no’.

I agree entirely. In this digital day where unsigned bands dominate MySpace, everyone wants free music downloads. And whilst it’s much easier for unsigned bands to get noticed, it’s still difficult for them to make any money – or just break even. At the time of writing this, Out Of The Gray’s MySpace profile has received 158,659 views, has 53,331 friends and they’ve had 6,711 comments – most of which are from ‘fans’ saying how much they love their music and can’t wait to see them live. Yet when I purchased and downloaded their latest tracks from their online store last week, I was their first customer, and I think I was one of only two people to buy their CD at the gig (which I guess wasn’t too bad given most of the audience had already left). Why more people can’t put their money where their mouth is and do more to support these unsigned bands, I don’t know...

Anyway, here’s a quick review of the bands we saw that night:

So despite being the small, strange venue that it is, we’ll probably go back to Under the Boardwalk from time-to-time to see if there are any more talented bands out there.

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8 Comments

Thanks for the write up Tony - and thanks for the support. Leeds (the next night) was totally RAMMED, though YOrk was even more dead than Sheffield (still really nice promoter and the other bands were cool too). Manchester tonight. We can't wait ;) Ten CD's sold in the first two nights... none last night :)
by Anonymous Anonymous  

So, based on your review I gave The Smokestacks and Out Of The Gray a listen on MySpace. First impressions of The Smokestacks are good. Wecandrinkourwaythroughthis was great, fast, funky track. Unfortunately the next three tracks Sun Never Shone, Ray Stubbs and Holes in Clothes didn't do it for me, all lacked the pace and promise of the first.

Out Of The Gray didn't start off that well for me either, Siempre failed to catch my attention and the second one also seemed a little too easy to ignore. Washed away however turned it around, I found myself listening to the lyrics, but still the song was a little slow for my liking, much like the fourth song Butterflies.

I think this all confirms something, I'm all for fast funky riffs in songs, but nothing too slow or acoustic :o) Each to their own...

Oh, and whilst I'm here my God MySpace is awful, I absolutely hate it, thank the Lord all I had to do was hit play on each page. How this website has become what it is is simply beyond me, I literally can't understand it.

Cheers Coco! The Smokestacks sounded much better live than their recorded stuff does on MySpace. Either they played some new tracks on Friday or they like to mess about with the live versions. Either way, I don't think those recordings do them justice. (I'm sure I heard them say they'd be uploading some of their performance somewhere but I can't remember...)

I hear what you're saying about Out Of The Gray - some of the songs are growers if you give them a chance. But if they're not your cup of tea, there's not much we can do about that!

Don't you think it's interesting how varied our music tastes are yet they rarely cross over? Interesting that, innit?

And I have to completely agree about MySpace. It's actually one of the worst websites I've ever used in my entire life for a number of reasons. I blame the kids to be honest...

MySpace/Foxspace/MurdochsSpace - I hate it too.

But then I hate everything Murdoch does. Particularly SKY.

Oh Yeah. By the way, Out of the Grey sounded pretty good. Shame about the Bolton connection though, Innit! ;-)

Try our latest recordings on for size. It's the first time we've been able to record the way we've always wanted to. We are also scheduled to do some more recording soon so keep an eye (and an ear) on us.

The new tunes are on our god awful my space page!

www.myspace.com/thesmokestacks

Laters,

The Smokestacks

Just stumbled accross this review by accident and ive gotta say i saw Strategic Intent at the Y NOT festival in Matlock last w-end and they were by far the best band on, they really got the crowd going!

Also, i think its a little unfair to pass judgement when you only listened to 2 songs.

Steffi, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the band were crap, I'm just saying that they didn't knock me out. I even made excuses for them! Nobody likes playing to an empty room and it makes it really hard for a band to give it their best when it happens.

The point is that, for whatever reason, they did nothing to make us actually want to stay and listen to more than two songs. Having said that, I would definitely give them a second chance though.

Fair enough - each to thier own. I wasn't at the gig you reviewed so....... its a difficult one, but i thought they were good at the Y NOT fest....