The internet has made music entirely universal, it’s opened up our ears to music from every corner of the globe. Whilst previously you had to wait for a band from abroad to appear on national radio, or in a town near you to know who they were or what they sounded like, now at the click of a button you can discover the newest bands from anywhere in the world. You’re now as likely to know what’s going on in Seattle as you are to know what’s happening in a rehearsal room down the road from you.
This made the most recent Scared To Dance night such a refreshing change, a gig in London consisting of almost entirely London bands. A timely reminder that you should open your ears up to what’s happening in your local scene just as much as those from the far flung corners of the world.
The exception to the local theme were the opening act Violet Woods. The Cambridge based 5-piece carry a heady psych influence that saw Uncut compare them with Syd Barrett, a fair point if you ask us. They whip up an impressively swampy vibe, heavy on the bass and with the relatively rare use of a 12-string guitar, their thick walls of sound are superb. Like the critically lauded Hookworms they infuse their psych sound with a punky influence, as well as shades of The Cure, The Jesus & Mary Chain and on the closing number even a latin-influenced almost mariachi vibe.
Violet Woods are followed by the ever expanding line up that is The Understudies, one of the current indie-pop scene’s most well respected bands, there’s a confidence that comes with being an experienced live act, and despite the packed out venue they seem entirely at ease up there on stage. Opening with a track from their 2010 Odd Box Records released EP, the excellent My Life Is Not A French Film, they merge the artier edge of Indie-Pop, perfected by the likes of Stereolab, with some more crunching punkier notes. They play a set largely borrowed from last years, Let Desire Guide Your Hand, an album that recalls the big hitters of the game from The Smiths to Belle & Sebastian, but they’re clearly far more knowledgable of the scene they came from, not just the entry level bands, so there’s nods to The Lodger’s kitchen-sink drama on My Life Is Not A French Film, Wanting vs Getting is a twinkling, beauty that hints at latter day Edwyn Collins and the whole set is infused with a certain melodic melancholy that takes you back to the likes of Talk Talk or Tindersticks. They’re articulate, clever and thoroughly charming, injecting their music with a fresh impetus that lifts it way above a pastiche.
Fever Dream describe themselves as noisy navel gazers with nice hair. They don’t disappoint on either front! The hair is indeed wonderful from all three members and the music is even better. Thick walls of murky joy, they’re an explosion of dark noise, all gun shot snare drums, reverb heavy guitars and vocals that slink in and out of audibility. Scuzzy-pop, with low end rumbling bass, and scorching feedback, nothing here is left without a gorgeous layer of fuzz, they recall the likes of No Age and Cheatahs, and seem thoroughly on trend with the current musical climate. They play a number of new tracks, and despite a couple of false starts they’re fantastic, thrilling and duly adored by the crowd, who flock en mass to see them. A superb live act, if this set is anything to go by they’re set for very big things!
Closing the evening were long term favourites round here, Night Flowers. The Hull born London based 5-piece deal in the more tuneful end of Shoe-gaze, melding pop-tinged hooks with guitars heavily coated in reverb. Unlike a lot of the bands currently being labelled (perhaps that should be tainted?) with the Shoe-gaze tag they don’t seem to simply rely on covering up a lack of songs with walls of reverb, they’re better than that. The songs on their self-titled debut EP showcased the quality of their songwriting; the gorgeous Summer Rain which brings to mind The Cure or Echo & The Bunnmeny and the stunning Embers, their poppiest moment to date, recalling the mid-2000’s ilk of The Stills or Stars. The new tracks they play tonight suggest that an EP just scratched the surface, the new tracks are sharper, more focussed and suggest a band becoming far more than just a sum of their influences. The male and female vocals are shared without competition; they seem to work beautifully in unison, despite the contrast in their delivery. Greg’s a bundle of energy, never still for a second, he plays with an almost nervous compulsion, whilst Hetty is the complete opposite, a gently swaying but still intense performer, she seems lost in the music that surrounds her, almost oblivious to everything else that’s going on, yet she’s captivating and holds the attention of the sold out crowd throughout. Their songs “about Humberside and being in love” are beautifully low-key atmospheric beauties, the sort of band who’s music washes over you but remains with you long afterwards, they’re very special indeed!
Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
Tigercats – Junior Champion
Making Marks – Flying High Forever
Emmy The Great – Swimming Pool
Peter Matthew Bauer – Scientology Airplane Conversations
Young Guv – Crushing Sensation
Literature – New Jacket
Trust Fund – We’ll Both Apologise
Waxahatchee – Air
Dignan Porch – Forever Unobscured
Laura Marling – Short Movie
SLUG – Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped In Plastic
Darren Hayman – May Day 1894
Here We Go Magic – Hard To Be Close
Burning Peacock – Games
Flowers – I Love You
NRVS LVRS – 2YOUNG2KNOW
Evans The Death – Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face
McClusky – She Will Only Bring You Happiness
Los Campesinos! – By Your Hand
Modest Mouse – The Best Room
The Wave Pictures – Pea Green Coat
Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best
Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me
Here We Go Magic – How Do I Know
Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
The Smiths – Nowhere Fast
Teleman – Skeleton Dance
Magnetic Fields – Andrew In Drag
Allo Darlin’ – Half Heart Necklace
Menace Beach – Tennis Court
We’ll be back for Scared To Dance’s next gig night on the 3rd of April with Withered Hand, Seabirds and more to be confirmed. TICKETS