Betty And The Id

Tonight is the night when dead leaves fly, Like witches on switches across the sky. Before clocks turn back Voodoo begins, Dark Hearts releasing their soulful sins. On this ghouls night eve a well hidden Digbeth boozer plays hosts to a Wacky Weird and Wonderful night of Garage Blues, Rockabilly and Misplaced Messthetic Aesthetic (blame Betty and the Id for that description!).

A piercing “Waaaaaaahhhh” signals the start of Voodoo Barry and the Black Toothed Grin.

Voodoo Barry And The Black Tooth Grin

Budweiser swilling, tab smoking lead vocalist Dan Holland doesn’t sound all that dissimilar to Caleb Followill, the gravely baritone voice in full effect. But its right there the Kings of Leon similarities end. Voodoo Barry’s Garage Rockabilly set is fast paced and projects a deep, rich fulsome sound across the tiny courtyard. Apart from a few notable gaps between songs their entire set shows real promise, virtually faultless and ends with dirty, snappy cover of ‘Wild Thing’.

Voodoo Barry And The Black Tooth Grin Voodoo Barry And The Black Tooth Grin

I’ve been lucky enough to catch quite a few Dark Hearts shows.

Dark Hearts

As far as timelines go they’ve only been on the gig circuit a comparatively short time, although watching them live you would without doubt think differently. Even more surprising is the support behind them. For a group of effectively up and coming nobodies they certainly seem able to pack em in.
Vocalist and bass player Toni Woodward looks resplendent in a black slashed ankle length dress, putting the looks of the other three members to shame. Mind you, it’s hardly a fair comparison when you have a striking blonde versus three blokes sporting beards, leather and flat caps…
Their first song ‘Virtue Vice’ starts softly and gradually builds and builds before bursting into a foot tapping, head nodding rhythm that holds you until the track ends in the silence from whence it was conceived. There’s nothing weird or wacky about this. Wonderful? Maybe.

Dark Hearts Dark Hearts

I always struggle with pigeon holing the sound and style of any band. The Dark Heart’s maybe labeled as Garage Blues but regardless, you do find yourself drawn to the filthy, dirty guitar driven music. Not so complicated it’s a struggle to comprehend, but still clean enough to appreciate and enjoy.
Slotted into tonight’s set was a couple of songs I’d not heard before and even a cover of ‘Tom Waits – Make It Rain. Compared to the dirty bluesy riffs of their more recognisable songs, their new material sounds meatier, fuller and seems to convey the work of a band rapidly growing in confidence.

Dark Hearts

The set was tight, rhythmic and snappy but perhaps best of all. The Dark Hearts put their souls into what they play. They may play dark but by christ it comes straight from the heart. Perfect for Halloween eve.

I confess, after just one song from Betty and the Id I had to up sticks and leave.

Betty And The Id Betty And The Id

The thought did cross my mind of maybe winging my way through some kind of hashed up review based on the thoughts and descriptions of a couple of friends. My own thoughts were that of a band sounding similar to The Doors during their foremost psychedelic era, only with slightly less psyche. Having listened to more via their MySpace page it would have been a total disservice. Their musical repertoire is wide and would certainly benefit a closer, more honest listen. And as for that Doors reference? That would have soon been forgotten
Visually, their appearance is that of a band that really hadn’t spent too much time in front of the mirror this evening. Hell! Even the weathered looking Ginger Cowboy in the crowd had given more thought to his outfit. But it’s the music that matters and from the little I heard they sounded great.

And on that note I had to go. Hindsight being the wonderful thing it is, would have had me staying until the end of Betty and the Id’s set, and most likely longer. On arriving at my next intended destination I discover that the bonfire has long since died. The party has separated leaving me with the last remaining drunken stragglers. The bar just called last orders but won’t let me in. It may sound like a wasted night, but if it wasn’t for Betty and the Id I might just have been one of the unfortunate few to have been given the chase by Bristol’s finest in one their illegal bonfire spotting choppers. But that my friends and my friends of fright night, is a story for another day…

Words by Lee Hathaway, email Lee.
Photos by Wayne Fox, email Wayne.

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