Sala Upload, Barcelona.
I discovered Tropical Fuck Storm thanks to a very good-timing recommendation which emphasised on the joys of seeing this band live when they, lucky enough, happened to be playing in Barcelona in three-months time. It was one of those rare but glorious musical findings that keep you listening to their albums further than the initial hype. I have this devotion for music where I can see a wide range of influences and paths, music that breaks conventional rules, music that surprises the expectation of known next-notes of the brain with an unexpected one that catch my neurons attention. In every new listening I was taken away by the combination of sound labyrinths they draw, visiting rooms of rock in psychedelic, blues and punk shapes guided by their addictive voices and riffs.
With the aforementioned feelings, on a cold November evening, I walked up to Poble Espanyol where, hidden across a Plaza Mayor that tries to condense every possible replica in the peninsula, lies Sala Upload. Sala Upload is a nice small venue that, strange enough, despite my intense concert-going life, I seldom visit. It has two height levels above the stalls preceded by balconies so, in a way, there are three different levels of first rows. I chose the first row of the first balcony to have a clear view of what was going to happen on stage with a good-sound distance and patiently waited with no support-act until the venue was completely packed and the lights went out.
Four figures quietly appeared on stage under great cheering and an almost two-hour display of energy began. From the very first instant it began my attention could not simply stay in one of the four asymmetric corners of the stage that the four members of the band represented. Charisma and attraction excelling by all of them. All of them deeply stared at the audience, making a connection beyond the music that transpired further beyond the stage. Erica, in hypnotic blue-turquoise faders, keys and chords, moved her eyes to the left and to the right to the beat of music, to the precise echo of her wide range singing words. Fiona, half-hidden behind her fringe, sculpted accurate bass lines and vocals in the whole picture. Lauren hit the drums with an astonishing strength adding a thick, precise and intense body to the powerful mixture. Gareth, with his “supreme leader” shirt, mastered the resonant frequency of every song with his clear and raspy voice hitting several different registries from whispering to screaming as he lay on the floor or hit the microphone and cymbals.
The sound was close to perfect from where I was standing, all of the elements on stage were clearly distinguishable and mixed. The audience was mostly respectful and paying absolute attention to what was going on stage, getting into the shared music-communion feeling and fiercely asking for an encore after, song after song, the combination of elements achieved an absolute music endorphins overdose atmosfera.
One of the best experiences of a live concert is when it exceeds your expectations and when, on top of that, it takes music you already love to a new next level. There is so much added value in a Tropical Fuck Storm show, an added value that, on the other hand, is what most live-event goers seek and what, sad enough, many bands fail to achieve. I really hope they release a live album that captures a teaspoon of this energy or, alternatively, that I get to see them again soon enough for another shot of their musical endogenous and joyous addictive substances.