Meme Detroit & Institutes live at The Night Owl, Birmingham – 5th May 2018 (Review)

I went to see Meme Detroit with support from Institutes live on the 5th May at the Night Owl. I know both bands personally so it was nice to go and do a feature on both. Institutes brought their theatrical side out with the theme tune of the Avengers signalling their first track. Gareth’s vocals were constantly on point as each song progressed. I know Gaz personally, like I said, and I know how much he likes Star Wars, so I really wasn’t surprised to see a Star Wars mask on the stage while they played, just constantly staring into our souls. With their set featuring tracks like We See Colour which was aggressive, it was nice to hear tracks like Not Alone with the whole arrangement of the song being delicious. I must say, the bass line in the verses for this track is so fragile but delicate. Their stand out track for the show was Golden Egg with the lead guitar going through what seemed like a midi synthesiser pedal, the song had so much power. Top performance from the boys, will definitely be checking them out again for sure. 

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Whereas for Meme, the girl sure does bring attitude to every track the band plays. Meme released her debut album back in 2016 and has been causing quite a stir round the Birmingham music scene for quite a while. With influences drawn from 90’s grunge, 80’s synth pop and indie rock, Meme’s distorted music is big. Her live set included big songs “With You” featuring Love Transcends All Again, a real powerful love song about being in love with “love.” The band, of course, featured the latest release, Soc Med Junkies which is about social media as a whole and how it controls us. I must say, the songs are really quite good, but at the gig, some guitar parts were drowned so much in fuzz and distortion that it was hard to understand the songs fully. Saying that, the band as a whole (Barney Such on Drums) and Ross Adams on bass) created an energy that filled the whole room. Just a shame that I had to leave early.

I asked Meme some questions to get a better feel of what her music/influences involve.

“I was sat aimlessly scrolling one day through my news feeds and suddenly found myself feeling really heavy-hearted and down. I realised it was due to all the negative sh** that I was reading and watching on my screen. It was a bit of a light bulb, “what the f*** am I doing?” moment so I switched off my phone, grabbed my guitar and notebook and started writing to put my time to a much happier/more positive activity.”

 

“Thanks! Yeah, the 80s thing came from a composition briefing for a film soundtrack. I’d never really done anything like that before so decided to give it a go and ended up really liking what came out. So much so, we released it. Influence wise, it’s hard to say as my influences range from all sorts. Due to my family’s generational hand me down box of vinyls: Bands/artists such as The Beatles, Bowie, Bob Marley, MJ, Foo Fighters, to At the drive in, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Death from above. I’m well into dance and old skool hip hop also. If something stirs an emotion in me, whatever the genre, I’ll dig it. Guitar writing wise, however, I guess I could probably say my biggest influences are Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Billy Corgan and although she’s a bassist, Pixies’ Kim Deal’s simplistic yet genius playing style inspired me from a very young age.”

 

What has been your favourite gig you’ve played so far? What’s the weirdest gig you’ve played?
“My favourite gig so far has to be when we played the main stage at Silverstone.
It was just an awesome buzzing atmosphere. The Sun was setting in the distance and in that moment as we were playing out, it just felt so right. It was almost like an out-of-body experience ha. The weirdest gig I’ve played is probably The Treehouse sessions in Birmingham. I wasn’t sure what to expect as when you get there, you have to go through someone’s house and you get taken into the back garden. You go through this wooden door at the bottom of the garden (it was like Narnia!) and suddenly you’re in this full on production room with monitor screens and crew everywhere. Then you get taken through to the performance area and it’s literally a tiny treehouse with a gorgeous intimate seating area & bar below for the audience. The whole thing was filmed for their channel with an interview that took place in this ace yurt. It actually ended up being more awesome than weird in the end!”
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