In the 2011 documentary ‘Magic Trip’, a re-telling of the story about Ken Kessey and The LSD-taking Pranksters, The Grateful Dead slowly evolve from a distant soundtrack for the group to becoming the unofficial house band of the movement. Inspired by the counter culture, the use of psychedelics, and the power of positive thought, The ‘Dead’s principle influence on the Pranksters is their ability to play a type of music that ‘wasn’t just was written down on a music sheet’ but instead was like ‘playing holes in the air’. The Dead became the type of band who looked for, and found, a new style of playing at a time when the Pranksters were looking for, and found, a new style of living.
Perhaps one of the greatest legacies of the Grateful Dead, if not directly in terms of their sound but rather their quest for originality, is the inspiration seemingly provided to this century’s Merseyside bands; a collection of Liverpool based groups who search for new grooves as a way of inspiring an audience to look further than what’s in front of them.
Four years since their last trip to the North East, The Tea Street Band, are one of those turn-of the century Liverpudlian bands who perennially search for new sounds and new textures. Driven by their ability to create music which is meaningful to rave kids and guitar worshippers alike, The Teas blend of cosmic space guitar driven rock, precise dance grooves continues to be a beacon of originality and inspiration.
Driven by funk riffs, tonight sees the group pull together the dub-funk-rock of PiL with the electro blend of New Order in a sound which mashes up everything from disco to rock to dub to indie to electro. Highlight of the night ‘’Disco Lights’ steals the show with it’s Sly Stone groove, Bernard Sumner style vocal and it’s pulsating electronic choruses; it’s a perfect blend of loops, breaks, wah-wah and bass grooves. Driving the groove, and leading by example across the evening, bassist Nick Otaeguli is the bands focal point with his funky side step dancing and blend of Peter Hook meets A Certain Ratio’s high low neck, lead, bass playing.
An interesting collective, the Teas on stage spend the evening fairly remote, locked into their own groove. Frontman Timo Tierney shuts his eyes for the majority of the show, opening them partially towards the end in a moment when he asks the crowd if they’re still awake; a brave move which results in increasingly loud reactions from the crowd up to their final track, a cover of ‘I feel love’, which results is a huge ovation.
Using their own blend of acid, and acid house, The Tea Street prove that new sounds can be still be found if you go looking for them. Let’s hope that somewhere, there’s a collection of Pranksters waiting to be inspired.