[Charlotte Mullin | Contributing Writer]
On Thursday 16th October, the Alternative Music Society kicked off their first event with a free gig at the EleHouse, featuring the charming Robbie Cavanagh and Hertfordshire’s own The Twirling Canes.
The event was the last hurrah of former society presidents Matas Mažas and Raj Bhasin as they handed down the mantle to Georgie Galvin. I had the opportunity to interview all three before the show, and they gave us the true meaning of ‘alternative’. A term frequently assumed to mean ‘metal’ or some other hardcore genre, in reality it refers to ‘anything not in the charts’. The exploration of this range consequently allows the music taste of the general student body to be massively expanded.
On the night, the EleHouse had the perfect atmosphere – pleasantly full and chipper, with no signs of chaos as we’ve seen on occasion. I once queued for 40 minutes for a drink and still have nightmares about it!
Playing from his album The State of Maine, an intimate documentation of his experiences in America, it was easy to recognise why Robbie Cavanagh cited folk and country as his influences. His set-list ranged from upbeat to gut-wrenchingly emotional; whether playfully asking the audience to ‘pretend you’re in Portugal’, or begging ‘don’t forget me, the boy from the fair’, Cavanagh’s powerful voice managed to completely captivate the entire room.
His mix of rambunctiousness and poignancy culminated in a resonating finale to lead onto The Twirling Canes, who possessed a decidedly darker, more mysterious sound, and yet weren’t shy in making phallic jokes about their name.
In a preliminary interview, The Twirling Canes described their music as a “southern Gothic romance novel” in musical format, and this turned out to be pretty accurate. In contrast with the perfect road-trip mix-tape that was Cavanagh’s set, the Canes’ soundtrack, comprised of their six-song EP ‘Roark’ as well as new material, was reminiscent of Brand New in its haunting captivation.
On the first glance, you wouldn’t think that the duo, Matt Davey and Matt Pugh, would be able to emanate such balefulness whilst clad in patterned shirts and braces, yet deep croons of lyrics like ‘I fear I’m losing my mind when I close my eyes’ combined with sublime melodies kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Mind you, their dedication of a song to me may have made me slightly biased!
Nonetheless, The Twirling Canes had an intense stage (er, corner) presence, switching between ominous uttering to fierce electric riffs, all the while bopping around and stamping their feet, to make it clear they were there solely to give a good time.
All in all, if this experience was typical of an event planned by the Alternative Music Society, I’d heartily recommend joining. Current president Georgie says that, while there are no regular meetings, the society aims to hold fortnightly events. In fact, October marks the resumption of their monthly Alt Invasion at Club Batchwood, so you should absolutely strap on your dancing shoes and get going!
Visit Robbie Cavanagh’s website at www.robbiecavanagh.co.uk
Like The Twirling Canes at www.facebook.com/TheTwirlingCanes