The Uncle Acid story began when the band emerged from a psychedelic swamp in 2009 to grace the music scene with their eccentric combination of doom, sonic rock and melodic sixties flair.
To kick off proceedings for the Deadbeats’ Wasteland tour, Californian hard-rockers Blood Ceremony captivated an eager crowd with their flute-infused metal riffs. Each time lead singer Alia O’Brien delicately added a woodwind flavour to the band’s otherwise occult atmospherics it was met with a mixture first of surprise but then clamorous appreciation by members of the audience who hadn’t heard such an effective flute / hard-rock combo before (me being one of them). The most memorable solo came from closer I’m Coming With You which fluttered around the room like a red admiral and provided the ultimate climax to such a pagan-like experience.
Uncle Acid began their set in a circle with their backs to the crowd gathered around the drums immediately referencing Wasteland’s main conceptual thrust as a political and social commentary reflecting how technology and the modern life-style act as a barrier to actual human feeling. The idea of being surrounded by media walls was cleverly incorporated during their performance as Starrs, Stokes and Smith repeatedly turned away to shield themselves from contact with the appreciative humanity in front of them. Ironically, the back lit stage ensured that the screen projections behind the band provided the gig’s visual highlight as the members retreated into the shadows.
A suspenseful vibe was established during the elongated intro to opening song I See Through You before breaking out into an uproarious head-banging session as soon as the fuzzed-up bass line riff came into earshot. Songs played from their new album were just as well-received as classics from previous releases with Shockwave City sounding just as recognisable as Crystal Spider. Crackling bursts of energy constantly flowed from Starrs who carried the head-banging along with him, his hair completely shadowing his face for the majority of the set.
The band finished with No Return - the ultimate take home thrill for doom gig disciples as the crowd swayed in one encapsulating rhythm to give one last knockout punch to a really well-received gig.
The highlight followed when Starrs and Stokes finger-picked a beautiful melodic piece which came as a surprising contrast after their dark power-driven set. Starrs thanked the audience for such a warm welcome back to Birmingham before reassuring us “You can all go back to your technology now.”
This final number encapsulated the album’s central concept - that people are consumed with what they see on screens and the soft improvisational contrast at the end of the set illustrated just for a moment how to break away from this conformity. The final sentiment from the mastermind behind these hard psych-rockers left a doom-filled room feeling just a little more enlightened as we headed out into the frosty night.