Fri 10th June 2005
Support from G.U. Medicine
Having been really surprised and impressed by the new Open Hand album I was quite looking forward to this gig. There were three support acts on the bill but a lack of enthusiasm for hearing the first two and a long and busy day at work meant that I turned up around 9.30; just as G.U Medicine kicked off. They played a pretty good set of low-down sounding stoner rock. Plenty of bottom end groove and some riffage bordering on thrash at times. I'd not encountered them before now and on tonight's performance I'd not be adverse to encountering them again. Good stuff.
A change of drum kit and the setting up of a few peddles and a keyboard later and Open Hand lift off around 10.25.
If I have one criticism of the new album it's that the production is a little clean for my taste so, i'm keen to hear the material live. Lead man Justin Isham sets up the fantastic intro riff from 'Hard Night' in a sampler, loops it for a while and when it kicks in it's immediately clear that the songs from 'You and Me' have a lot more impact live. Reminiscent of 'Jupiter' era Cave In, there's a grove and crunch to the more "stoner" sounding tunes that is held back a little on record and watching the guys seriously enjoying rocking out only adds more weight. The crowd is a reasonable size and all in attendance seem very impressed.
As well as changing the sound for the better, the recent line up change has also brought in an additional (female) vocalist and because of this album cuts 'Tough Girl' and 'Take no Action' sound great; showing off a real versatility in style and song writing coming across like a more rock and roll Pretty Girls Make Graves. Overall the more drawn out riff heavy and ambling moments are most impressive tonight and there's a real modern psychedelic edge to the whole performance.
Sticking almost entirely to 'You and Me' for the setlist tonight works well and there's a good flow to the material. They break out a classic cut from previous album 'Dreams' as a final request to enthusiastic applause and as I head for the door I pick up a t-shirt from the merch stand.
It's got a cow's head skull and guns on it so, I guess it's official..... Open Hand rock!!