I’m not entirely sure Nirvana knew what they were starting when they recorded Unplugged. Yes, there had been many acoustic acts before, and Dylan had propelled folk to the mainstream long ago, but since the session rock bands have queued up to do acoustic versions of otherwise heavy tracks at every possible opportunity (for a good ‘un, check out I’m Not Part of Me by Cloud Nothings).
I was massively intrigued as to how their sound would be reproduced in acoustic form. It turns out that the answer is massively well. The vocals flourished, and despite a reduction in the number of drums, there were some very strong beats on the go. The mix of electric and acoustic guitars made for a lovely contrast too. Check out their track Panda Eyes to hear how lush the opening minutes are before the heaviness kicks in (which is also fantastic).
I hadn’t heard Dominic Griffin before Thursday night, but he produces some gorgeous music. His voice occasionally reminds me a bit of Benjamin Francis Leftwich (with a touch more body), and with a band his music felt surprisingly full, especially so when elements like the drums were purposefully sparse. After his set I dutfully bought a copy of his Yangshuo EP following the show, and whilst it’s not entirely representative of the full band sound, it displays the vulnerability to a tee.
So to answer the question of the title – I’ve seen many a duff acoustic act in my time that verges far too close to being middle of the road. But not on Thursday. Thursday was brill, and these dudes were awesome.