False Advertising – The Old Blue Last – June 3rd 2019

Trump is in town and everything seems quiet. The protests don’t appear to have spread in the numbers predicted. Instead, there’s an eerie sort of calm. Police outnumber public on the Mall. They twiddle their thumbs and wait for something to happen. If each day of his visit is like this (the talk is that things will ramp up today), the attention seeker will have to create his own news stories; probably not a challenge for one so blessed with the skills of false advertising.

False Advertising are a three piece grunge unit. They play the Old Blue Last on the day that Trump hits town. A glut of amateur photographers at the front of the crowd suggests that there might be a buzz about this trio. Recent 6 music and festival successes would tend to back that up.

A disclaimer – I find grunge difficult to get excited about. Despite a wide and varied love for most musical genres, this is a style that largely leaves me cold. It’s entirely possible that if I’d have stumbled across an early live Nirvana show back in the day, I would have simply given them a wide berth. My critical faculty goes out the window. And so False Advertising have to achieve much to impress.

Three songs in and I contemplate leaving. Each number has sounded the same to my ears. It’s clear that singer, Jen, can belt out a tune and that she’s ably assisted by decent enough musicianship but, for me, this is adequate without being particularly likeable. There’s little thought that’s been given to stage show; it’s spit ‘n’ sawdust music for those who love 1990’s Seattle. “I don’t think I’ve ever been sharp before”, says Jen, pleasantly unaware of the double-meaning as she apologetically tunes her guitar.

Jen swaps places with Chris, the drummer, and there are glimpses of improvement. He sports a fringe down to his mouth and a head that’s shaved at the sides. It’s hardly a bellow of a rock voice he has but, for a moment, the harmonies hit and the tunes entertain; dare I say it, the grunge is less obvious. 

The original formation reforms with Jen returning to lead vocal duty. Sweetly, she encourages all to move towards the front so that she can hand out sticky lollipops. The lollies advertise False Advertising’s new single, ‘You won’t feel love’. It’s an undeniable set highlight. The grunge gets punkier, more direct and more melodic; I almost lose myself in enjoyment. 

All around, people are obviously getting this more than I am. Some flail about urgently as if their lives depend upon it. Despite some glimpses of greatness, I have to ultimately concede that I’m not feeling the love for this more than competent band.