The Packhorse is a lovely Victorian pub. Situated opposite the University at Leeds, it is frequented by lots of students and as such is an ideal place for any band that is playing Leeds. Tonight Middlesborough trio Dartz are headlining with main support coming from London group Tellison.

When I get to the Packhorse I wait only ten minutes before Tellison take to the stage which is just one end of the room and actually not a stage as such. It means if you are small and you are at the back you won’t be seeing a lot tonight as the stage area is at the same level as the rest of the room.

A large number of the crowd seem to know all the Tellison songs and mouth along to the lyrics with the band letting the audience finish off the next line from time to time. Tellison are best described as gentle indie rockers. They are reminiscent of REM, but there isn’t much as power behind their songs. Sure, these are polished songs and they sound okay live, but you can’t help but feel that they could do with a half decent producer to give them a little extra drive to their music which would make all the difference. After a while the songs begin to merge into one. It gets difficult to tell them apart and my concentration and interest goes the same way, which I put down to the tempo of the songs being so similar as much as anything else. In short I enjoy Tellison. I wouldn’t leave town to see them but I would leave the bar if they were supporting a band who I wanted to see.

The crowd give Dartz a warm reception as they take to the stage. Right from the first chord you can tell that they mean every note and every word. They have the power that Tellison are lacking and this makes them more dangerous and punk like in their sound. Sounding like a cross between Three Colours Red, Sonic Youth and Reuben they hold my attention throughout their set. After early songs, 'Cold Holiday' and 'Latin and Greek' Dartz start to banter with the crowd which always goes down well in my book.

Dartz are doing a number of small intimate gigs as a way of saying thank you to their fans but all to soon for the crowd and myself announce their last song. They finish in a crescendo which is akin to a car crashing rather than tailing off gently.

If I had a criticism with Dartz, it is that their set at about 35 to 40 mins is too short and, despite trying very hard, they come across as tired and fatigued. I’m not complaining as they have toured a lot recently with I Was A Cub Scout, and on the evidence of a set as strong as this I can forgive them that very easily.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Russell Ferguson exclusively for Pennyblackmusic















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