It’s funny how random events can lead your life down wholly unexpected paths. How did we end up in a disused store room under a train station on a dank and dismal Friday night transfixed by one of the most engagingly raucous yet melodic gigs we can remember? Well, it all started with a handful of raffle tickets bought at Strong Island’s birthday bash at Southsea Castle a couple of months ago.
We don’t usually win anything at raffles, so it came as a bit of a shock to hear one of our numbers called out. We had won a pair of VIP tickets to Albert Road’s Dials Festival the following weekend. Amongst the many familiar and not-so-familiar names it was the last two acts at The Wedgewood Rooms that caught our attention – Estrons and Tigercub. The Dials blurb described the four-piece Estrons as a “fiery, explosive and unhinged Welsh guitar band”. The band’s Welsh name can be variously translated as ‘aliens’, ‘strangers’ or ‘misfits’.
In their half-hour slot before the headliners, Estrons made an immediate impression with their surprisingly heavy, hook-laden, alt-rock sound – freshly honed during a European tour supporting Garbage. We went home clutching a copy of their only-just-released debut record “You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough” (vying for the longest and most awkward debut album title since “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”). There’s nothing quite like buying an album direct from the band as you are chatting at their merchandise stall after a performance. The band expressed a lot of love for Southsea – and the Wedgewood Rooms in particular.
Estrons’ debut album has made a big impact since its launch in October – deservedly winning plaudits from the music press for its depth and maturity. It has also become a firm favourite in our house – 10 punchy tracks stretching over just 33 minutes that somehow manage to capture the intensity of their live performances but with extra depth and complexity. It’s certainly one of the strongest debut albums I’ve heard in many years.
When we saw their dates for their autumn album tour, we were quick to snap up tickets for the Estrons gig at the Green Door Store just along the south coast in Brighton – which sold out weeks before the event on Friday November 16th. The Green Door Store (an old railway storage area with green doors!) is a snug and atmospheric venue directly underneath the train station in Brighton, with Victorian brick walls and solid stone floors. Fittingly, the band recorded their debut in the seaside city, with production by multi-talented Steffan Pringle (who is also the band’s bassist).
As we were unable to leave Southsea before the rush hour, we arrived at the venue just as support band the Berries ended their act. From what we heard it sounded like a missed opportunity that we hope to rectify in the future.
Lucia were up next – a Glaswegian band with a rapidly growing reputation for guitar-driven rock. We were treated to a riveting performance, culminating with their impressive vocalist singing literally nose-to-nose in a walk amongst the crowd. Lucia are well worth checking out if you get the chance – on the evidence of this performance they look like they are going places.
Then Estrons took the stage, launching straight into “Lilac”, their album’s opening track. From the opening crash of the guitars announcing the start of this track, the 150 people crammed into a venue less than half the size of the Wedgewood Rooms were treated to a performance of thrilling verve, intensity and passion.
Lead vocalist Tali (Taliesyn) Kallstrom commanded the stage captivated the crowd. Her heart-felt lyrics provided a refreshing and less saccharine perspective on the trials and tribulations of life as a young mother in today’s world than you will usually encounter in the charts.
Guitarist Rhodri Daniels supplied a multitude of massive riffs and intricate solos over the bedrock of Steffan Pringle’s distortion-laden bass and Alex Thomas’ precise drums.
In the following hour and a quarter, the band mesmerised the audience with an energetic show that encompassed all but one of their album tracks, alongside fans’ favourites “Strobe Lights”, “I’m Not Your Girl” and “Cold Wash”.
By the time Tali drew the gig to a close with her exclamation of anguish at the end of “Lost”, Estrons had treated the crowd to a unique experience that will live on in my memory for years to come. It was a treat to be able to see a talented young band – clearly destined for much greater things – up close and personal in such an intimate venue. Estrons are definitely one of those bands that you are desperate to see again as soon as a gig has finished – is a trip to Cardiff in December stretching things a bit far?
If alt-rock, punk or grunge are your thing, I’d wholeheartedly recommend that you check out Estrons and their debut album. If you get a chance, try to see them live – before you can only see them in larger venues. Maybe our fine establishment The Wedgewood Rooms could get them back early in 2019 (hint!).
So that’s how we ended up in an old railway store room in Brighton on a damp Friday night last week – and there was nowhere else we’d have rather been.
PS A quick shout out to the lovely couple from Paris who we got talking to because I spotted the Nikon FM2 film camera around the guy’s neck and had to say how much I liked it. They had come all the way to Brighton for the gig having seen Estrons support Garbage earlier in the year.