Max Turnpenny reviews student band Park Motives' single launch at The Love Inn. 'In Movies' is out now.
A sense of unfamiliarity struck me as I walked up Cheltenham Road toward The Love Inn at the unseasonably early time of 9 pm. Park Motive, a five-piece Bristol-based band, were launching their new single ‘In Movies.' The bar-cum-diner-cum-club, which usually hosts the Thursday night parties of Bristolian techno label Livity Sound, isn't really a gig venue. Nevertheless, it was the chosen setting for the fourth edition of a series of gigs put on by the newly formed ‘Spinny Nights Ltd.'
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Despite my initial concerns about how it would work as a gig venue, The Love Inn felt like a natural home for Spinny Nights. You could be forgiven for mistaking the club's well-known disco ball for part of the groups characteristically shiny décor; their last gig at The Louisiana featured a display of retina damaging stage trinkets - a backdrop of golden party-streamers, and a curtain of CD's suspended from the ceiling.
Ian DPM (short for Definite Party Material) lived up to his moniker, making light work of the tricky task of the warm-up set. He carefully felt out the mood of the room, fluctuating between crowd-pleasing funk-house and disco edits, to weirder bangers like Parris' ‘Lionel's Dub,' and back again. Far from being the forgettable playlist of songs you usually hear before a gig, this was a fully formed DJ set. Combining a mixture of vinyl and digital, he twisted and distorted his well-selected tracks, building and splaying tension as the anticipation built for the main act. By the time Peggy Gou's newly released ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)' got a play, the room had already reached its familiar form, an almost impenetrable mass of dancing bodies.
As the last track slowly deconstructed, the members of Park Motive, who until this point had been causally milling around the room, found their way to the front. By now, the room was packed. Online tickets had sold out earlier that day, and the crowd was already half-trapped in place with all five band members (plus one bongo player) squished in front of the decks.
Out of a steady drumbeat came a heavy bass riff, as Park Motive's set began with an instrumental track, ‘Quark Soup.' As well as being a single launch, this was also a chance for the band to premiere some as yet unheard tracks. The setting and its improvised audio set-up meant their sound adopted an entirely different character. Their music, which even live usually sounds so precise, bordering almost on math rock, seemed more brooding in the small space. So small in fact, that the drums at the percussive core of next track ‘Incident' had to be tucked around the side of the makeshift stage.
The skipping beat and playful kick drum of ‘In Movies' sounded similar to early Floating Points releases, reflecting the band's dance music influences. The single, and all of Park Motive's music, transferred well to a live setting. The vocals were more varied and playful, and the various elements of the band could experiment to explore new aspects of the song. On ‘Madrugador,' an atmosphere of sheer joy took hold as the stage became a frenzy of movement; cowbells, shakers, and bongos all piling in together to create a carnival of sound.
Perhaps it's because four of the ensemble live in the same house, but the band gels together perfectly. They obviously enjoy playing live, and this close musical relationship allows them to effortlessly slot into their collective groove. No sooner did it feel like the band had reached that desired state of riotous euphoria, their set came to a close ending on a coda of distortion.
It's a credit to Park Motive's songwriting that they can create tunes that are real earworms without being vapid or generic. There is a very fine line between catchy and annoying. Fortunately, both ‘Incident' and ‘In Movies' sit well on the grin-inducing side of it. Credit is due also to Spinny Nights for avoiding the tendency of student-run events to put on a showcase of your friends, for your friends. While the crowd were mostly students and friends of the band, I noticed that it took until the last song for the two middle-aged blokes, who were drinking at the bar when I arrived, to leave. I only hope more people, fortunately, stumble across the chance to see Park Motive play live in the future.
Featured image: Epigram / Maxm Lewisohn
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