Earlier this month Lloyd and I had the pleasure of attending Minus Alive’s EP launch for their new EP Maybe This All Just Ends. We’ve been watching Minus Alive for a while now since discovering that they are Southampton based when I was building my ‘Southampton Rocks’ Spotify playlist. As rock bands go, Minus Alive’s sound is the sort of thing we’re into. Alternative rock with soaring highs and soft, distant thunder lows, lyrics that mean something and clear, melodic vocals, not to mention, they’re currently independent, which we like.
The EP launch showed us that they can certainly do it all live, too, and we had the chance to see three bands we didn’t know previously, all of which we liked. All in all, a great evening.
Local support Wither Machine showed off good voices and a strong alt rock sound. Add a few catchy riffs to the mixing pot and they will be ones to watch. I’ll look forward to seeing where they go next. The Survival Code from London delighted us by turning out to be a fellow duo, a heavier sound with less contrast but definitely cool. Finally Luna Kiss brought another great voice on stage, as well as some awesome harmonies, and were absolutely our kind of sound. Occasionally they have those drifty sections from indie rock that are suggestive of jamming in the lounge, but at the same time, I could daydream epic dreams to them, and every time the vocals came in, they had my full attention. We definitely left the launch with some new names in mind to keep an eye out for.
The two singles from Minus Alive’s EP shine even brighter live. The deep rhythms and distinctive, catchy riffs form an ideal backdrop for Ollie’s voice. I could certainly listen to Ollie Butler sing all day and continue to be enthralled by the warmth, clarity and strength of that voice. Max Bakker on bass lifts those soaring tones higher with perfect harmonies supporting and accentuating key notes. I have also had the privilege of seeing Ollie and Max play acoustic together, and this feature, as well as the captivating rhythm in their music, remains, and even shines in this form.
Lead guitarist Robin Small is unassuming though energetic – I could see his hands doing amazing things and would have liked to hear him a little more in the mix both live and in the recordings. Sam Garnett’s drums live were wonderful; just right to get us dancing with crisp sounds that cut through without obliterating the other instruments, as is so common at live gigs.
The feature singles on the EP definitely shine brighter than the rest of the tracks, through a combination of structure, rhythm, and catchy riffs that allow those songs to be easily recognised. My next favourite is The Ghost of You, which has the kind of chorus I’ll find myself singing along to in the near future.
The title track, Maybe This All Just Ends, is an emotional and sensitive piece that is much softer and slower moving than the band’s other work. The message is certainly meaningful and the band feel it deeply, but the lyrics are harder to hear and the composition doesn’t quite catch the ear like Not The Only One’s driving riffs and clever structure. That said, I admire and approve of the band’s choice to use as the title track the song that means the most to them, rather than the catchiest. I feel this decision led to the cohesiveness of the EP’s message and the enthusiasm of the band members in promoting it, which they have done incredibly well.
The connecting thread of the sad, red balloons was a stroke of branding genius, easily recognisable, simple to reproduce and incorporated into the launch with real balloons, ideal for taking selfies with, which I was of course obliged to do.
It’s hard not to enjoy any song sung in Ollie’s stellar voice and accompanied by Max’s backing vocals – Ollie has the alt rock tone that we all aspire to and the soaring choruses easily transport us to a place of epic inspiration. Minus Alive absolutely shone in the lineup, belying their relatively smaller online following compared with some of the supports. If the crowd have any sense, that following will be growing exponentially as we speak. Darjeeling, my favourite refined and warm flavoured tea, to go with these soaring melodies. Enjoy a listen friends.