Palma Violets at University of Southampton (02/12/2013)

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I can’t say I’ve ever been to a gig before where a sweaty hoard of greasy individuals punch their fists into the air and shout “CATS!”,  but I guess a Palma Violets gig just evokes those kind of weird and wonderful moments. After all, this is a band who are named after a cheap sweet, and who have a track called ‘Chicken Dippers‘… they’re brilliant.

Anglo-Welsh support band Telegram couldn’t look more indie if they tried. Bassist Oli appeared strangely effeminate in his tight outfit, as did guitarist Matt Wood, aside from his well-groomed moustache which looked like something out of a ’70s porno. While they may look like they’ve just walked off the set of Wayne’s World, they sounded like a contemporary version of what Garth and Wayne always wanted. An impassioned performance of recent single ‘Follow‘ proves that they have the song-writing capability to match their skill in playing as a tight-knit unit.

Hotly-tipped Childhood followed with a solid set, but one which lacked the same intrigue and mystery of the stage’s predecessor. Providing light relief with slightly bouncier melodies, afro-haired lead singer Leo sweetly serenaded through the grungey, reverberating guitars. The choruses were summery and Childhood served as a reminder that indie bands need not take themselves so seriously. With pulsating percussion and scuzzy guitars, the four-piece impressed with their most well-known tracks ‘Solemn Skies‘ and ‘Blue Velvet‘.

Rattlesnake Highway‘ was the portentously building track which kicked off Palma Violets’ set on their very own Rattlesnake Rodeo Tour. The night of testosterone didn’t truly begin until the disheveled bunch emerged on stage. Since their last show in Southampton just over a year ago, the band have released their debut album 180 and built a loyal fan base which were out in force. Now was their time to shine as they rocked around stage and baby-faced Chilli Jesson stood on the bass drum in an attempt to be an authentic rock star.

But it was this set opener which felt a bit uneasy. It’s like the band know this set too well, they’re too used to playing on these stages and having to act out rebellious rock star personas. The way the four-piece conducted themselves seemed tame; they may have sounded scuzzy and raw, but it had been crafted to sound that way, and in the process, undermined the whole point of creating such a sound.

Settling down into their performance however, the frontmen loosened up and such qualms were quickly forgotten as a crashing sense of gnarly recklessness descended on the room with chaotic strobe lighting for ‘Tom The Drum‘. Cranking up the pace, the set crescendoed into the band’s most well known tracks, segueing from the bone-shaking rise and fall of ‘Chicken Dippers’ into the chanted chorus of ‘Best of Friends’ which created a rolling mosh pit throughout the room. From here it was time to ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats‘ and the opening organ inspired the already-hyped crowds. Palma Violets have a real knack for memorable melodies and anthemic choruses, and this was entirely evident at the end of this ten-minute episode of their best tracks.

An inebriated mood now sat heavy over the room but switching up their set, it went from drunk sing-a-longs to funky guitar riffs and gigantic circle pits of sheer excitement. ‘We Found Love’ felt so completely legitimate that it was as if they were playing it for the first time which made the entire set feel exquisitely special. As Telegram stormed the stage during the encore and the sweaty crowd jumped around some more to a grungey, guitar-squealing cover of Hot Nasties‘ ‘Invasion of the Tribbles’ it really felt like the performance that had been witnessed completely justified the praise that Palma Violets have received in the last 18 months. These lads certainly have something special, and if a so-called guitar music revolution is developing, Palma Violets are at the forefront.

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