Various Venues, Cardiff | October 20th
Having already taken something of a battering due to a rammed early set from Deptford Goth, Buffalo’s bar staff were given no sign of a breather with the arrival of AlunaGeorge as the evening drew in.
The London duo are gathering more hype than you can shake a big old stick at, and it’s reflected in the scrum to try and get beyond the stairway of the venue, never mind close enough to yell at young Aluna that we think she’s pretty. Not that we would have anyway. Although we do. After some relentless burrowing we manage to achieve some semblance of a view, and it’s quickly apparent why there’s such a storm brewing around the act. Their sound beefed out by a live drummer, they emanate the confidence of a band who’ve been told how good they are a lot of late, and their soulful, groove-riddled, hooky pop is nigh on impossible not to be endeared by. As they reprise their cover of Montell Jordan’s classic This Is How We Do It, the room seems unanimous that AlunaGeorge know exactly what they’re doing.
Over at Dempseys, Glaswegian four-piece Casual Sex produce a well-arranged semblance of pop and r’n’b flecked 70s rock ‘n’ roll, featuring some phenomenally inventive dual soloing which really takes us aback. They also boast a drummer who looks like Brian Jones and embraces the fact in a dashing polo neck, and a lead guitarist in circular glasses and a faintly transparent shirt which emits vague bondage vibes, which we find oddly alluring.
At the Full Moon Club, Blood and Biscuits mans Portasound deliver their futurerock sounds with gusto. Opening with the apocalyptic Dreadnought – the single accompanied by an excellent video which should definitely be checked out – their maximal strut and displays of technical competence are interspersed by breaks of pure hardness, and the stark occasional intrusion of a ‘wob’ button on one of the keyboards.
Having agonised endlessly over a couple of pairs of pints, the decision is laid bare: should we make our way to Chapter for the potentially stunning double header of the masterful Errors and a homecoming set from Islet; or back to Buffalo for the sublime atmospheric electronica of Face + Heel? In the end, the lure of a man with a handlebar moustache grinding mercilessly again a monitor proves far too much, and to Turbowolf and Clwb Ifor Bach we are hopelessly drawn. That this also means a meeting with indie darlings de jour Palma Violets simply justifies it further.
You know exactly what you’re getting with Turbowolf. They surge onto the stage, all whips of the hair and classic rock n roll posturing, and proceed to smash relentlessly through the stoner-flecked party-punk of their 2011 debut full-length, opening with a breathtaking Ancient Snake. There are variations in pace but never intensity, spurts of pure hardcore adding an edge of slightly distracting danger. Frontman Chris Georgiadis possesses a natural magnetism, conducting the chaos to a crowd which takes a short while to loosen up to quite the Bristolians’ high expectations, but when they do so, do so gleefully. They present a new song, which is built around one of those riffs so audacious you can’t help but giggle like a schoolgirl, although that might also be partly attributed to the effects of the sonic rumbles on our relentlessly vibrating undercarriage. A fantastic set.
Anticipating the inevitable surge for the stairs, we made sure we’d found our place in plenty of time for the band recently featured on the cover of NME and dubbed the ‘best new band in Britain.’ There’s definite air of “go on, impress us” in the air, and it seems almost unduly expectant of a band with barely a handful of songs to their name. Yet Palma Violets deal with any pressure in the best way: simply by attacking it headlong. From the off, this is a far more visceral experience than many expected. The band are aggressive and impressive, rambunctious and terribly boozy. That’s alright, so are we. Bassist Chilli Jesson in particular is a hyperactive focal point, bouncing off all and sundry and approaching the mic with gusto. They wisely get the big ‘un out of the way early, and are justified by keeping the room at capacity throughout. Swn punters came here to see why there have been titled ‘the best new band in Britain’ and know what? That might not be far wrong.
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Words: Geraint Davies