No More Littles / Sweet Deals on Surgery / Cannibal Animals / Percy

Posted: 8 April 2016 in Live
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The Fulford Arms, York, 6th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The saying goes that variety is the spice of life. If it’s true, York-based promoters Behind the White Door managed to dished up a musical phaal at this free / donations midweek showcase of the weird and the wonderful, and it was gratifying to see such a decent turnout.

Local stalwarts Percy, who’ve been going forever and will probably still be going another eternity into the future warmed things up with their reliable punky pub rock. Not everyone would agree, but there’s something appealing about a bunch of disenfranchised middle-aged men wearing shirts and ties – like they’ve just walked from the office to play – cranking out four-chord riffs over which they grouse and sneer with distinctly fall-like overtones about shit jobs and equally shit relationships, neither of which they’ve the energy or inclination to get out of.

What swayed me to turn out tonight was a video by tonight’s second band, Hull-based Cannibal Animal. They didn’t disappoint. Throwing elements of early Therapy? together with bits of more obscure 90s noisy shit like Jacob’s Mouse, Headcleaner and Fudge Tunnel, into an industrial blender with a dollop of Godflesh, they crank out a fierce, feral racket that’s defined by a powerhouse rhythm section. The drummer’s ace and the bassist is something else. It’s all about the snarling, churning, springy, remarkably detailed but relentlessly driving basslines. As a nit, they’re as tight as they are angry, and man, they’re angry. But for all that, the vocals are drenched in reverb and at times have an almost psychedelic hue. Band of the night by a mile, it’s no hyperbole to say that they’re also my favourite new band.

Cannibal Animal

Cannibal Animal

They’re a hard act to follow, but Sweet Deals on Surgery – having travelled from Manchester for tonight’s show – do themselves ample justice. The first song of their set is called ‘Elvis Costello is a Wanker’. Whether you agree or not isn’t the point: it’s a great tune that grabs the audience’s attention, and for that, respect is due. They’re hard to place, musically. Vintage indie (as in vintage indie in the key of The Smiths), collides with contemporary indie (think the complexities of Everything Everything), but with a strong noisy / classic rock element (if melding AC/DC riffage with a dash of Golden Earring and Cheap Trick sounds like a bad ideas, it is, at least on paper, but these guys actually pull it off. (How, I’m really not sure, and no, the Theakston’s Old Peculier hadn’t taken effect at this point, and I switched to Oakham Citra at a more modest 4.2%. A more thirst-quenching beer was required to counter the rising temperature in the small, low-ceilinged pub venue)). They’re whacky, alright. And the between-song banter is gold at times.

Sweet Deals on SurgerySweet Deals on Surgery 2

Sweet Deals on Surgery

The headliners don’t actually have a name as yet, and ask the audience for suggestions. They’re celebrated York band The Littlemores reinvented and rebranded, and while their previous incarnation made a decent job of presenting ska-infused indie tunes which took cues from the Arctic Monkeys in their kitchen sink lyrical leanings, they clearly feel it’s time to move on. By way of references, my initial thought was Oasis – only infinitely better: I’m referring to the big wall of guitars rather than the songs, which are a long way from the turgid plod of the 90s reinventors of pub-rock for stadium consumption. However, I’ve been reliably steered in the direction of The Cribs, and it’s definitely a fair comparison. They’ve got a keen pop sensibility, strong harmony-led melodies, and a layered guitar sound. It’s their debut gig, and they’ve barely got 30 minutes of material, but it’s not only solid, but already rehearsed to perfection. Whether or not it’s your bag, they’re a quality act with huge commercial potential.

No More Littles

No More Littles.. or whoever they may be by the time this is published or you read this

In a world increasingly dominated by sameness and homogeneity disguised as consumer choice, and driven by profit, the fact that it’s possible to discover four high-calibre but completely disparate acts at a decent beer venue and pay nothing for the pleasure (if you’re a miserly skinflint) is something in itself. But the atmosphere – that intangible thing that can make or ruin a gig – lifts the evening to another level. Small gigs can be every bit as special as big ones, and for Cannibal Animal alone, this one was extra special.

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