Asleep In Transit’s EP Launch

Saturday night saw The Factory Cafe hosting the Asleep In Transit EP launch. Joining them in the homely setting was Thomas Krane and Lace Guns. Matt Knight reviews the evening.

 

After the interview with Asleep In Transit last week, and having been out of Durban almost every weekend since Christmas, I was excited to get myself down to the EP launch this past Saturday. Being British and therefore having a heightened awareness of the weather, I have noticed that our beloved Miss Durban reserves all her hottest nights for gigs held at Colombo.
This particular night was no exception, but that didn’t stop a really decently sized crowd from coming out in high spirits to watch three of Durban’s folk-oriented bands, at what is definitely one of the nicer venues in town.

Live shows are, after all, more about the listener than the performer.

As we walked in, just before the opening act, the thing that caught my eye was the brilliant stage setup – The band had put in a real effort to make the place inviting and homely. It was a cross somewhere between your Gran’s old lounge and a quirky antique store, with instruments nestled magically between chairs, desks, lamps and a bookcase containing some great literary classics (and a Grisham).

 

First up on the night were The Lace Guns – a fairly young but very promising trio made up of Guitar, Cello and the occasional violin – with shared vocals between a front man and front lady.
I watched half the show, and sat at the back for the other half, listening intently while playing some cards and trying hard to strategically follow the wall-fans around.
What was noticeable is that the sound The Lace Guns produce was as pleasant to watch and engage in, as it was to listen to as background music.
They did a couple of really good covers (think Angus Stone and The Local Natives, with the latter being the high point of the set) and a bunch of their own songs, which are all very pretty if perhaps just a bit uniform. Moving forward, if they can add some variety to their mix and master the art of the live show and its need for varying energy levels, they are certainly an exciting prospect for the future.

 

 

Second on the bill, and playing for (the almost) last time for a while (it’s complicated) was the four-piece version of Thomas Krane. Dan is heading off to take on the remaining Nazis that Harrison Ford didn’t finish off, and we wish him all the best with his musical adventures on the continent.
I think it is safe to say that, over the past two years, no Durban band has put more effort in, creatively, to their shows than Thomas Krane. Every time I have seen them, which is a few, there is some new musical treat to stick in your ears and leave you smiling.

 

 

Once again, this time around the whole set was worked with finesse and intent, and young bands will do well to remember the way Thomas Krane worked songs, built their sets and always engaged their crowds. Live shows are, after all, more about the listener than the performer.
Their strength lies in the ability to play around each other so tenderly, reworking songs to create moment upon moment of musical genius.

 

The shining moments from this particular night included an epic cover of Broken Face, which had a bunch of people participating in medium to industrial strength jaw dropping and glancing knowingly at one another across the room, and their fairly new song, God of The Small Things, which they ended off with, and which I think may be one of the best songs they have ever written.

How brilliant of a band to be able to disassemble for a bit while still being so musically on-the-up.

 

 

Finally, it was the awaited turn of Asleep In Transit to come up and own their night. From the first note you could see who the people had come to see, as the front end of Colombo became a solid wall of standing onlookers built around a packed floor of those seated on blankets.
They got out the gates with some feet tapping, melodically pretty songs, and kept a really great and high level of engagement the whole way through their tight set.
The backdrop of furniture behind the band and swinging lights above made the night seem enchanted, and the inclusion of Synth (over Cello) and the gregarious nature and style of the new bassist made for a rhythmically good time.
It was a far more energetic and inspired set than some of their previous shows, and every bit of effort was worth it for the crowd’s response on the night.

 

 

Both Alistair and Irina have great vocals in their own right, and they along with the band have worked and reworked themselves into to a makeup and sound that I think fits them well and will fly in venues around South Africa.
My concern with them has always been around the slower songs with duet vocals, as I’ve worried their voices don’t quite fit together. This time around though they seem to have worked it so there is much more space for each vocal to come alive, and have kept the harmonies more subtle and more sparing. And if they continue to do that, and add spice like this to their live shows, they will do really well and keep growing their following.

 

 

It should be said that while expressing the above thought on the vocals, a girl with great hair and a camera shouted at me in avid disagreement, so it is clearly not a unanimous view in any way.

All in all the set was a fine ending to a really cool night in Durban. The coffee was top class too, and there was food on sale – so bear that in mind for the next Colombo show.

My only negative thoughts about the night would be minor ones. The music in between sets (Blink and Jimmy Eat World) needs to change, and the continued inclusion of Somewhere Over The Rainbow in Asleep’s set kind of baffles me, but I guess we all have a Grisham or two on our shelves in amongst the classics. It keeps us lofty without being aloof.

Besides, that’s just my opinion anyway, let’s not have another Splashy Warm Up situation here guys. I’m male and have never even heard of the West Coast, so just calm down.

And so Asleep In Transits EP will be going into my CD player from tonight, and it should probably go into yours too and let’s keep on supporting good local music. Thanks for a great night all around guys, you reminded me of one of the many reasons why Durban is a great place to be.

*All images © Gareth Bargate

Comments
6 Responses to “Asleep In Transit’s EP Launch”
  1. Jesse says:

    great review, as always!

  2. Steve says:

    Cool review, fair comments all round.

    Coming from someone with no interest in this style of music whatsoever (I didn’t even realise any of those songs were covers and have never heard of any of those bands for that matter), Asleep In Transit were definitely the highlight of the night for me. Their set has an appeal that extends outside of your typical indie/folk/hipster/whatever. I enjoyed them a lot.

  3. gah! says:

    hipster trash is what this was

  4. Dayle says:

    Really good review. Always love your writing Matt

  5. Chandre says:

    hah! girl with great hair – thanks man! and I had no idea you were a reviewer, forgive me for my abruptness, yet we did somewhat reconcile! good review all in all.

  6. matt_theknight says:

    I was referring to louis.

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