Five Foot Something – Hobgoblin Staines
I’ll have two foot of this … and a yard of that.
I once went water skiing. And the instructor said, It’s easy. Just hang on. If you can. Then rise up. That is all there is to this game. Yes. Fine. I said. But it wasn’t. And I couldn’t. And I didn’t. But so what? I tried.
Here are some equally useful instructions for Staines newest band ‘Five Foot Something’. It’s easy. Get yourself a supporting role on a tour with someone famous (preferably Hard-Fi or their equivalent) then rise up. That’s about all there is to this game.
If they were a bar drink then ‘Five Foot Something’ would be fruity and non threatening fruit based beverage – an orange and mango J20 perhaps ….or some kind of smoothie… but they are not a drink. They are a Staines flavored rock band. I over-emphasise that they are a Staines rock band because that is important to them- and to us. Their debut performance was at the Hob, Staines. (The Hob is the main place ‘to be seen’ in Staines.) And the whole population of Staines came out to see them and wish-them-well. (Maybe you were there, but if you were not, then it is “Your Look Out” as Mama used to say.) They sing about Staines. They work in Staines. They drink in Staines. They go out with people in Staines. They look like they come from Staines. And they grew up. In Staines.
Yup. Staines. This is a recurrent theme in the 5’? song-book. Furthermore, to say that this band is breezy and cheerful is an understatement. If the band was your neighbour then he would be the kind of bloke who would bring your washing in from the line when it started raining because ‘you may have forgotten.’ Or he would ‘do your lawn’ because he has already got the flymo out, after all, and it’s no bother is it? The music is as light and refreshing as a pool-side shower on a stifling hot day in the Canaries. It is fizzy and quite bubbly. It eases your strains, soothes your tired muscles and cools you down. It is non-threatening. Undaunting. It is like a lunch-time drink with your mates. But then your Auntie shows up. But all your pals are actually fine with that. And she turns out to be very funny. So she stays. And we all have another drink.
Modish, in a kind of late 1960’s ‘Small Faces’ type way, the band can also remind you of latter years punk bands like ‘Green Day’ – with their plentiful tunes all tight and poppy – like a prep school hostess in her crisp clean shirt. Also, somewhere deep deep down, there is the soul of an R&B skeleton trying to clamber his way out. Maybe there is also some post punk lurking about down in those dark places too. The musicality is never far away; Ever so slightly whimsical, there is often a catchy beat or a heady vibe to bob you along…reminiscent of ‘The Searchers’ with strong lead vocals, tight arrangements and secondary harmonies. There is also some dream pop imagery in the mix too, reminding me of ‘This Mortal Coil’ and even ‘David Bowie’ circa Hunky Dory, with the locomotive beats propelling each song along, past the gently frothing motifs that gently waft across the scenery.
There is a familiarity and a quaint ‘Englishness’ and earthiness to the songs and lyrics. At times it is almost as if Five Foot Something is trying to conceal the fact that they are actually a folk band struggling to get away from their self-imposed constraints – their rock n ‘roll ropes and chains- as it were. Naturally there is plenty of punk and indie stuff in their sound too… but the substance of this is unchallenging, undemanding even. The songs lack any brashness or harshness in their style or mood. They certainly lack any bitterness. But the sounds do not lack finesse. There is a profusion of colours and textures. This music feels ‘good for you’ in the same way that goats cheese on crisp-bread feels good for you. Crunchy? Creamy? Smooth? Yes, yes, yes but a bit- shall I dare to suggest this- insubstantial? Maybe. Their music reminds me of those adverts where the fat bird suggests to her friend that she won’t feel ‘wicked’ or ‘naughty’ if she eats this (or, in the case of 5 Foot Something, listens to it.) Straight after a ‘Five Foot Something’ gig you would “just have to” knock over a police no waiting cone or wee on your mums shoes…merely to somehow re-balance the karma.
After a bit of a nervy start (but it was a big crowd for a debut performance, so I can forgive that,) Ravi’s lead vocals got stronger and more confident, gradually building up to master the performance by the second half of the set. Robert Hart (lead guitar and general ambience) was able to weave a genuinely fine and intricate framework of delicate and shimmering sounds from the outset. He also provided a series of robust and solid arrangements when required. Rob is, quite clearly, a very talented young musician. It would be nice to see him share the front of the platform a bit more, up there with Ravi.
And Ravi, looking like some cross between the young ‘Michael Corleone’ in The Godfather and the ‘Young Winston’ acted by Simon Ward (i.e. big eyes – no sleep,) played softly reliable rhythm guitar with Warren Pegley supporting on sensible bass. Jamie Heath completes the sound of the squad, on drums. But this outfit feels like it is Ravi’s baby. There were quite a few – if not Succotash moments then as near as damn it Succotash moments- in there. And, by fronting the band, Rav seemed to be imprinting the corporate sound of the others somehow.
The set was a good 45 minutes worth of entertainment and pleasure for the Staines crowd. There was a full album’s worth of material in there and at least two decent singles within the magic box of tricks presented to the audience. No shocks. No pain. No misfortunes. It was a good solid, workaday indie rock performance. By a band from the ‘burbs to the folk of the ‘burbs. If not instantly memorable, anthemic or immediate, there were at least one or two tunes in the show for each and every person to take home and put upon their mantelpiece. A capable and complete rock set.
Oh yeah, and the boys chose to wear matching tartan wool-look mountain shirts and short linen ties. The visual effect, certainly from way across the pub, was that the local B&Q had closed early for the evening and so all the trainee managers had popped in ‘for a quick one’ after a long hard day grafting on the shop floor. And soon, after a few orange and mango J20’s, they would be ready to scoot on home in their Astras, back to “Moormeads”, back to their lay-dees… back to Ash-lee, Kay-lee & Hay-lee, and to their nippers Jayne, Wayne, and Charmayne. It was a great look. Subtle, tongue-in-cheek Middlesex humour.
Give them their due- the boys have tried. They got up and they did it. And, do you know what… I think they’re gonna make it!
Are we excited yet?
One Response to “Five Foot Something – Hobgoblin Staines”
Thanks for the feedback Lydia… your comments are ‘seen and noted’ !
I know what you mean, but we are all in this together- it was a debut performance – so I can only judge the boys- like you- on this show. I very much enjoyed it and I think I compare the boys favourably with Green Day, Small Faces, This Mortal Coil and even Bowie!!! I will be at their next gig Mar 28 2009 The Red Lion, Egham and, by then, we will really be able to see where they are going.
Best Wishes- and thanks again- Neil