The appeal of a band fresh from New Zealand and ready to start a headline tour is strong tonight and even though it’s a bank holiday the crowd bustle in from the start to enjoy a packed night of support acts.
First up is Joyce Delaney, a three-piece fronted by Chrissy Barnacle on guitar and Nyla on bass; the pair share vocals throughout and sprinkle the space between songs with a charming double-act of joking, sarcasm and confessional storytelling.
Their onstage ease is more than justified by the lively scuffle of what they describe as ‘bubblegum punk’, enriched with screeches, jagged riffs and a kind of scrappy garage sound that’s sweetened by the pair’s vocals, veering easily between siren shrill and butter-wouldn’t-melt.
With references to Bojack Horseman, drunk texting and Facebook stalking, Joyce Delaney make the kind of DIY noise rock that soundtracks the guzzling of corner-shop wine as you cry over your ex on Valentines, and in fact they even have a song, ‘Vday’, ready to go on this topic, featuring the vitriolic refrain “fuck your Valentines”.
If Joyce Delaney are a band for drowning your sorrows in millennial irony to, then next act Marble Gods are here to provide you with a bit of cheery, thrashing indie, with lyrics designed to help with problems both practical and existential in life, from regretting one’s childhood dislike of Bruce Springsteen to dealing with broken household goods.
The standout track is definitely ‘Washing Machine’, which is praised onstage by The RPMs later on; it’s one of the band’s tighter songs and draws the crowd with energetic rhythms and the high, sweet dream-pop drawls of singer Eimear Coyle, whose glow-in-the-dark tropical fish t-shirt looks a treat under the swirling disco lights of The Hug and Pint.
Marble Gods work best when they up the tempo to a good bounce, and opening track ‘Blonde Ambition’ indicates that this is indie pop with a sense of humour as well as a musical tightness that’s less apparent in Joyce Delaney’s sound.
Next up is Brighton four-piece The RPMs, who take to the stage in the obligatory rock’n’roll uniform of black denim and monochrome stripes and fire into a lively set of melodic indie rock.
While it’s important to praise such a young band for being so well rehearsed, the delivery pulled off more or less without a single hitch, there’s something incongruous about their precocious rockstar gloss and swagger.
Maybe it’s because they play after two very much self-aware bands, with lyrics drenched in irony and self-deprecating humour; or maybe it’s because The RPMs seem keen to address the audience with the rallying cries typically reserved for stadium gigs, which ultimately fall flat on the cosy atmosphere of this basement venue.
The ambition, musically, definitely leans towards The Who and Arctic Monkeys, sometimes recalling the husky indie pop of The View, but unfortunately The RPMs lack what the latter two bands have in bucketloads: witty lyrics that engage with pressing social issues at the level of everyday stories, delivered with a poet’s caustic precision.
It’s not that The RPMs don’t try to have a critical voice, with songs like ‘Oh My God’ and ‘I Wanna Work in Abercrombie & Fitch’ touching on political corruption, disillusioned urban youth and the somewhat fascist employment policies of popular clothing stores.
It’s just that there’s something not quite convincing about their conscious pose as rock’n’roll upstarts and millennial rebels, especially when their between-song banter involves a shoutout to the food selections at Tebay Services (endearing, certainly; punk, perhaps not).
Nevertheless, the band deserve credit for the tunes, which improve throughout as the riffs get sharper and poppier and harmonies smooth out some nice vocal textures, while an extravagant guitar solo on the closing track demonstrates their commitment to putting the energy back into a genre that often falls into apathetic or slacker territory.
After The RPMs’ youthful enthusiasm, Fazerdaze take us to the next spiritual level with their atmospheric brand of sensuous, bedroom dream-pop, lead by the effortlessly cool Amelia Murray, who arrives onstage with a beautiful racing-red Fender.
The band deliver a set that is warm, sultry and soothing at the same time as retaining a haunting quality, layered with rich emotional tones that catch a sense of nostalgia and yearning while tapping the energy of the present.
Murray’s voice rises to sweetly elegant, echoing lilts that beautifully fit the lo-fi vibe of her songs, while onstage the band have a certain chemistry of soft tight drums, intricate bass and atmospheric flourishes of electronica.
The subtle touch of reverb and shoegaze vibes leaves the impression of the music as lightly hazed by a retro glow, like neon blurred in the rain.
They smile through the whole set and while Murray’s luminous, sugary vocals have the crowd utterly mesmerised, there’s no pretension whatsoever to the band, whose sincerity and politeness is refreshing and leaves the impression that Fazerdaze simply enjoy what they do, seeming genuinely appreciative of their audience.
Standout songs include the melancholic, immersive tones of ‘Reel’, ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Little Uneasy’ as well as the more upbeat ‘Lucky Girl’, whose washed-out vocals and bright, clean guitars recall the dreamy indie of Wild Nothing and Craft Spells.
This is their first UK headline show, and with the winning combination of seamless delivery and that inexplicable magnetism that draws you into Murray’s intimate lyrical universe, Fazerdaze are set to win the hearts of many more local venues.
Words: Maria Sledmere