EMPTY VESSELS / DALLAS DON'T / FULANGCHANGANDI, 24TH SEPTEMBER 2011, OXFORD WHEATSHEAF
Watching Fulangchangandi is akin to being a peeping Tom peering in through the window at two post-rockers engaged in tantric foreplay. Chords and drones ring out as the duo, seemingly oblivious of their audience, gaze across the stage and into each other's eyes. We're kept at a distance, lamenting the absence of a drummer or drum machine, waiting for a climax that - some rough guitar-on-amp frottage aside - never really comes.
Forget guns - 'This Town Needs Us' is the bold title of Dallas Don't's second song, and on this evidence it's hard to disagree. While all around them Oxford's indie rock royalty strenuously and pretentiously strive to deny their indie-rockness, this quartet are sufficiently self-assured to just embrace it. The Twilight Sad - equal parts noisy and gloomily romantic - are the touchstone, not least because lyrically dextrous frontman Niall Slater hails from north of the border.
After a Scottish geography lesson in song, Dallas Don't present us with two alternative futures: one in which they lighten up and harness the power of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's jangle ('Fife For Life') and one in which they beef up and trade blows with Future Of The Left ('The Ballad Of Phoebe Henderson'). It'll be fascinating to watch which they choose.
And from an unashamedly indie rock band to an unashamedly hard rock band. "I need a change back to the way things were", exclaims Empty Vessels vocalist Matt Greenham, possessor of a prodigious set of pipes. It's not exactly news, though - you could guess as much from his band's hyperretro songs, which strut and swagger like Tom Jones fronting Led Zeppelin. Indeed, so red-blooded, tight-trousered and testosterone-fuelled are they that they're probably capable of impregnating blushing ladies at fifty paces. You've heard of cock rock? Well, Empty Vessels' modus operandi is to make everyone else sound like erectile dysfunction rock. Job done.