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a Lesser Variety Show (Live Review)

a Lesser Variety Show (Poster by Seb Martin)
a Lesser Variety Show (Poster by Seb Martin)

Many years ago, when Liam Evans was a small child, he came up with an idea. Whilst juggling two separate careers (semi-professional football player/being handsome) he knew this idea was impossible. After sustaining an injury that ruined his football career (bitten by lion) he knew he would now have the time to become a semi-professional musician and then, one day, a full musician. That is the point we find him at now, a point in which he can live out his childhood dreams by creating a variety show that subtly implements the name of his band, a Lesser Version, into the title.

Alongside the now legendary My Heads (YouTube subscriber count: 90) he was able to do this last Saturday. An evening full of art, dance, music, comedy, whimsy, love and anguish. A poster with a massive picture of just his face on it was printed, destroyed and re-published with a more egalitarian approach to the advertisement of the various acts, and the rest was history.

After 18 months of waiting I was now allowed within 100 feet of Liam again, and with that, we were able to collaborate, and not only was I allowed into the venue, I was also allowed to perform. But enough of that for now.

The first act of the evening was Rosie Terry Toogood. Rosie is a dancer who creates different stories through the movement of her body. Her set this evening was minimal, sparse and hypnotising. The first portion of the dance was lit solely with the light of her phone. At points you wondered if the story was being told through her body or the fractured shadows the light left behind.

She moved herself from the centre and into the crowd, creating new characters, before collapsing into the floor. Describing dance through an online blog seems futile, and it is a medium better experienced, so go and see her as soon as you see her name on any poster, idiots.

Following Rosie were Don’t Ask Me What My Social Security Number Is. They were entirely the opposite. They let the audience pick a random number and then played the song that the number was attributed to from their setlist. This does not always work, as was shown when the band were forced to play the intro midway through the set. Unfortunately for the band, who seem to suffer, this is also exactly why it works.

They are not organised chaos as mad bands are often described - they are simply chaos. They rap and scream out packed lunch orders, hilarious tales of dad’s loving their sons, and WWE. It’s wacky and ridiculous, and they know it is, which makes it fairly epic. I would love to see this set performed in a secondary school, church or arena. I hope they get a number one hit, and part of me has to believe they will.

Right in the middle of the night were My Heads. This was easily the most disappointing set of the night. For the entire 40 minute runtime, the crowd simply cheered and laughed. Nobody seemed to recognise any of the political context or allegory’s for a post-normal world. Fart noises throughout the set were treated as cues for laughter, rather than thought. At points the two scholars tried to engage the audience in a collective mind palace to experience something they’d created known as ‘social think’, and instead the audience chanted ‘HUNG’ at them in reference to their enormous members.

My Heads, in a state of confusion, seemed overwhelmed by the support and generosity of their peers, and may have even felt pride and an immense love for the people around them, however they were totally misguided in this feeling, as the crowd clearly didn’t get that it was meant to be a serious theatre piece.

The penultimate set was Hank Bee. I’d like there to be an understanding now that I have no bias and, on a personal level, hate all the artists that played tonight. Anyway, Hank Bee is probably the best musician in the world. She has a great big brain full of songs and if she doesn’t release them soon I’ll be upset but it won’t matter as she’ll still be a world famous rockstar.

Aside from that, she played through all of her folksy, country bops, from the anthems to the tearjerkers. It was a wonderful change of pace from the previous chaos that ensued, and allowed the audience a moment of respite, that I feel confident in saying moved everyone in the building. I wish she’d played longer but infamous divas My Heads massively overstayed their welcome prior to the set. I hope she releases a triple album of all her songs one day.

Finally, the big boys, a Lesser Version. When they walked on, you could see the childhood dream in Liam’s eyes finally come to life. It was almost like he’d shat himself; he was that pleased. The set was one of their best ever. George’s bass was groovy; Nick’s drums were thundering; Alex’s guitar was luscious; Adam’s synths were spiralling; and Liam’s hair was fantastic.

The boys really came to life that evening. The atmosphere in the room was already beyond wholesome and an absolute joy to be involved in, and the headliners couldn't have been better. It was the most I’ve ever seen them enjoy themselves on stage and the excitement was palpable.

It should also be noted that outside of the main acts, Seb Martin’s artwork throughout the night was truly special. Throughout the evening Seb painted the acts in his own unique, abstract style and created some beautiful pieces pairing the different acts together in completely ingenious ways. There was also a large canvas beside him that gig-goers were able to paint onto as much as they liked, which ended up creating a marvellously surreal piece that really captured the night.

A large, celebratory piss up ensued once everything was finished, one that was well deserved by all involved. I felt horribly ill the next day, but nothing new there. I didn’t feel the usual sense of tremendous anxiety the next day though, which was surprising, and perhaps the biggest compliment to the night of all.

Do you have any cool things to say about the evening? Please, don’t hesitate to tell Aidan Shard on the bar. If you say a really cool thing, he’ll show you his trick where he cries into a pint glass and Carlsberg comes out!

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