NME tours have the reputation of being slightly haphazard in whom they put together; they just put bands they like in the mix and hope that it works. It’s had some unusual outcomes (most recently having Azealia Banks on the same line-up as Two Door Cinema Club) but this time, NME may have just stumbled across its most cohesive line-up yet.
Gross Magic kicked off the evening with a set that showcased their 2011 EP, Teen Jamz, at its finest. They looked like they should have been playing grunge in your neighbour’s garage – and to an extent, that’s what they did. It was unpolished, frenzied and the amps squealed more often than not. But the band had also grabbed elements of psychedelic rock, with woozy choruses that included Sam McGarrigle’s vocals that often veered off into androgyny. Stand out track of their set came in the shape of ‘Yesterdays’; a dark and grungy number with heavily distorted vocals that perfectly exemplified why Gross Magic are different to anything else on the circuit at the moment.
Following this, The Cast of Cheers took to the stage and immediately made it their mission to get the crowd moving. The band themselves had enough energy to spare as they bounced around the stage like Springer Spaniels on Red Bull; and it was almost impossible not to dance to their infectious, upbeat math-rock. From ‘Human Elevator’ right the way through, it was a fast paced barrage through the highlights of their first album which are even better live than on their already strong record. Each song was a hybrid of all the good elements of other indie bands before them; ‘Poce Mit’ sounding like Bloc Party meeting Two Door Cinema Club, and had some real impressive guitar work all over it. They were even brave enough to road test some new material which went down equally well and altogether when they finished, they had succeeded in making a clueless crowd bounce around for 40 minutes—a sign of good things to come.
The ‘headliners’ of the tour were NME’s poster boys, Howler, who have pretty much been mentioned weekly in NME since November 2011. They turned up and took things about as seriously as ever—which is to say, not very—but that was part of their charm. After all, it’s not very often that the crowd get offered some of the bands rider or see the guitarist play the entirety of the last track with his trousers around his ankles and the microphone on his crotch… I’m really not joking.
They thundered through a setlist that contained songs from the first EP, their debut album and new material. It was something that worked well to appease a crowd of first timers (like the boy next to me) and the regulars (myself) entertained. ‘Louise’ caused a few technical ‘glitches’ (or it equally could’ve been the band stalling for time) but sounded a lot better put together than it did at Reading; and got a far more enthusiastic crowd response. ‘Ipecac’ sounded incredible for its first airing and it has the potential to be mind-blowing, least of all for the story that accompanied it (“I wanted to do a flash mob at the Mall of America, where everyone danced to ‘Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night’ by the Black Eyed Peas—but everyone’s taken ipecac before so they all start vomiting…”).
Of course it is old favourites like ‘Beach Sluts’ and ‘Back of Your Neck’ that worked the crowd into a frenzied mass and had all sorts of chaos breaking loose. Whoever said that guitar music was dead, certainly hasn’t seen how Howler do it. Because as a band, Howler pretty much have everything down to a fine art already.
With the Generation Next tour, you certainly do feel like you’ve just seen three of the newest, up-and-coming bands that music has to offer.
Gross Magic setlist:
Shot In The Nite
Streetwise Guys/There’s A Shadow
Cast of Cheers setlist:
I am Lion
Trucks at Night
Back to the Grave
Told You Once
Too Much Blood
For All Concern
This One Is Different
Back of Your Neck