Birmingham's free festival Gigbeth got off to a roaring start on Friday night with some of music's most lucent stars rocking out at Birmingham's Barfly club.
Great spirit, enthusiastic masses and with ebullient court-jester Zane Lowe and his MTV2 posse in-da-house - quacking his quack in typical fashion - from the off, this looked set to be a great night. Even the bands showed up.
The 'Gigbeth elan' (patent pending on this gem of a phrase), was not even dampened by a dismal outing from headline act, the woefully adequate Dirty Pretty Things, brain child of former Libertine Carl Barat.
Dragging their sorry, nervously posturing hides through a mire of unmemorable indie-by-numbers, barely had they cranked up their musical mule-cart before the assembled masses stopped giving a fig. Neither dirty nor pretty, one suspects their presence will not trouble us for too long.
Thankfully, their supporting artists had better ideas. Numerical rockers !Forward Russia! notched up another scintillating tour de force peddling their brand of quirky,
soaring electro-rock with sharpened acumen. With the success of recent singles Thirteen/Fourteen and Twelve, !Forward Russia! are definitely on the march in 2006.
Larrikin Love also provided solid support. An outfit that definitely grow with each listen, their bluegrass-tinted folk rock was a sound reaffirmation of one of British music's freshest assets.
North American quintet The Fields have much more about them than their name would suggest. There are definitely shades of Sonic Youth lurking around in their effective dusky acoustic/raucous rock mix and, with some ear-piercing synths thrown in for good measure, The Fields have real promise.
It is fairly ironic, however, that a festival incepted to showcase local talent was launched with not a single local band present, but hey. As far as statements of intent go, an event demonstrating such calibre was the perfect means of kick starting a great cultural event.
If, only a few weeks ago, one was still musing over the nature of the near mythical beast that is 'Gigbeth', based on this, the question quickly and pertinently changes from "what the hell?" to "why the hell never before?". See you there next year.