Before the big-un that is Download festival I decided to go to a smaller gig at the Flapper and Firkin in Birmingham. There I saw the band Layers supporting Freeze the Atlantic. Who is this ‘Layers’ you may ask? Well the band’s guitarist James Thompson is actually my guitar teacher. So when he informed me they were playing in Brum I thought I’d go check his band out, see if I was really learning from a professional.

Layers 1

For a venue the Flapper and Firkin is next to a canal, it proved rather impractical to find due to it being rather out of plain sight except at the other side of the canal. But it seemed like a decent enough venue for gigs. It has a couple of retro pinball machines, a balcony overlooking the canal (although most of the smokers go there) and a basement where the gigs take place. I arrived early so I treated myself to a WKD before the first band Broken Oak Duet came on. There wasn’t really much to say about them, it was just a guitarist and a drummer, no singer. What they did have was a lot of noise although their chugging riffs got samey after a while. The drummer also thanked Layers for letting them borrow their drumset.

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Despite being the main reason why I went Layers were the main support act. Their performance however proved to be very lively. I already knew how good a guitarist Thompson was when showing me his various techniques, but here I got to see it in person. Perhaps most energetic of all was the singer who at one point did a full on backflip, those at the front were quick to retreat. The view I had standing from the bar was at times a little hard but standing straight I could still see them just fine. Whilst I didn’t recognise any of their songs they still managed to entertain. I thought I might as well stay for the main act Freeze the Atlantic. Whilst they weren’t as energetic or *ahem* dangerous as Layers they still did well to follow on from them. They sort of reminded me of You Me at Six with a slightly poppier vibe and the frontman swearing like a sailor. Again like Layers I didn’t recognise any of their songs but there’s always a first time, and my first impressions were that I enjoyed them.

Freeze the atlantic

So how did a gig like that compare to some of the bigger ones I go to? Well for starters not as many people can fit in the venue and unless you’re a hardcore fan you won’t recognise songs or have a singalong. But what gigs like this do have is a more intimate feeling of being able to get closer to the band, especially if someone you know is playing. Also the event was £6 which averages out at £2 per band (Win!), it makes for a nice night out. Not to show favouritism but I think I’ve made it obvious who I liked the best. Layers to me put on the most memorable set and they’re ones to watch out for. And with lessons from their guitarist who knows? That could be me up there in a few years’ time.

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