CCA gigs are always vaguely reminiscent of high school discos, where the crash mats and badminton nets have been stashed under the stage, and the bar is down the hall past the principal’s office, should you require a Coke to dilute your cheeky half bottle: here’s hoping I avoid the slow dance rejection and potential ‘square go’ that used to accompany such evenings.
The room is sparsely populated for the arrival of Psychic Soviets who, nonetheless, administer a dose of serrated punk vignettes with shambolic precision and an eye rolling nonchalance.
Their set is mainly culled from last November’s Eight and a Half on Each Foot LP, with each song antagonising and provoking a reaction, the lyrics proffered not so much through singing, but rather through righteous pronouncement.
It’s a highly enjoyable brand of street hassle to witness, akin to being set upon by an angry stranger before he decides, d’ya know what mate, you’re okay.
Southampton’s Dolomite Minor step up as a slender two piece consisting of Joe Grimshaw (vocals/guitar) and Max Palmier (drums), although the sheer magnitude of sound they produce has me asking where the extra personnel might be hiding.
From the opening howls of feedback onwards they unleash a torrent of psychedelic blues-rock that envelops the room, as songs like ‘Talk Like An Aztec’, ‘When I’m Dead’ and ‘Let Me Go’ undulate from the stage and generally lend credence to the idea that some bands are better sampled live.
There are moments throughout when the whole thing looks set to collapse inward, when the riff seems to stutter or the beat drags its heels, however just as it reaches the brink they rein it back in time for another go around.
It’s this form of controlled chaos that Dolomite Minor executes so well, and the kind of live experience I would happily avail myself of on a weekly basis.
The crowd has swelled to all corners of the room by the time local boys BABY STRANGE swagger on for their headline slot.
And swagger they do, looking every bit the picture of youthful bravado with their beers and clenched fists hoisted: thankfully, my swift and snap judgement of them being all front is quickly deflated once they strike up.
They waste no time in proving they have the salt to cut it as a headline act, one which is quite clearly well versed in a school of indie punk-rock that encourages infectious, hook filled songs and exuberant live performance.
The material is mostly familiar tonight, with the majority of the crowd having at least the choruses down pat: one listen to songs like ‘Pure Evil’, ‘VVV’, ‘Friend’ and ‘Luver’ will show you why.
My respect for the band deepens as the show picks up pace, with Johnny Madden able to work a crowd in his role as frontman, the brothers Aidan and Connaire McCann locking down an air-tight beat and all three combining purposefully to coax as much edge, melody and menace out of their repertoire as possible.
The crowd don’t hold back either, for when Madden calls for “some movement out there,” he gets just that in the form of an indie mosh-pit, one which I would happily have lost my shirt in if I weren’t charged with keeping a keen, objective eye on proceedings.
Words: Brendan Sloan
Photos: Arpad Horvath