Thekla, Bristol | February 9th
It can’t have been easy for Everything Everything to pick a support act for their Arc tour, them being one of those broad indie bands that otherwise defy comparison via ludicrously complex songwriting. Outfit weren’t a bad shout, though – they’re fellow Northerners and also sound as if they’ve freshly emerged from some cool London cellar.
This Merseyside five-piece are a brigade of reclined beats, boisterous chaos pads and harmonised darkpop vocals, making them pleasingly hard to place – the closest we get is when their lead singer admits one of his shuddering synth lines was stolen from the X-Files theme. ‘Just the background part, not the main tune’, he deadpans. ‘That’d be way too obvious.’
Gladly, Everything Everything’s set tonight is equally unpredictable. Opener Kemosabe is a magnificent showcase of Jonathan Higgs’s malleable octave spanning voice, one of the impressive examples of a broadening of influences since debut album Man Alive. Rather than following form with another shiner from new release Arc, they revert back to clap-happy, distorted bass enthusiasts with Qwerty Finger. Soaring vocal choruses are replaced with commanding lead guitar sweeps; within five minutes of arriving onstage, the band have proved themselves to be varied songwriters with the chops to pull off virtuoso arrangements in a live environment.
At their most thrilling, Everything Everything take the intelligence of skittery American math rock and wed it to a hook-driven rhythm section. Winding song structures and base-pleasure pop sensibility make for a pleasing combo during the tribal verses and juvenile whistles of Schoolin’, whilst the hurricane chorus of Photoshop Handsome is impossible to ignore in its unlikely string of power chords and four-to-the-floor bass drum bashing.
Quieter segments of the set give the audience a moment’s rest from their on-the-spot jiggling, but it’s a challenge to stay fixated during five and a half minute epics like The Peaks and Final Form after such exhilarating thumpers. Not to say that Everything Everything don’t use a wide dynamic range to their advantage; one of the biggest thrills of the evening occurs when Higgs dons his telecaster during Suffragette Suffragette and feigns silence before a spectacular turbo-boost of filthy riff ignition.
Singles such as Cough Cough and MY KZ, UR BF work as important markers for the set (last song before fake-finish, first song of triumphant encore) – they’re certainly highlights, but really the entire set is so consistent that it functions as one long, well composed playlist whilst still retaining the visceral elegance of a rock gig.
Radio play hasn’t stopped Everything Everything from losing their musical intellect; nor has their newfound fame hindered their ability to stage a no-nonsense club gig when it’s called for.
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Words: Matt Ayres