Live Review

Cults, ATP Nightmare Before Christmas

A band finally seeming to get into their stride after a rush-released major label debut.

It’s nearing 10.15pm on Saturday night at ATP and the New York-based, Californian-bred alt-pop duo Cults are setting up their equipment at Red’s - the modestly-sized Butlins bar come Red Coat entertainment venue that will host their show this evening, having been picked by Battles to play their last UK show of the year 2011. Despite humble origins as an outfit (the two-piece first shot to notoriety via Bandcamp and have since tackled the mainstream radiowaves with a succession of well-faring hits) the pair have expanded for their live show to a full band, sprouting several more heads, arms and limbs to help out on the night.

A product of such is that the group, still relatively early in their history and thus perhaps experiencing a few teething problems, take quite a lengthy amount of time setting their gear up and soundchecking. This wouldn’t normally be an issue, especially not to this crowd in particular who seem to consist of more lyric-reciting and hand-flailing fanatical fans than you’d expect to encounter at a festival gig. But the problem is that when Cults do finally dot the i’s and cross the t’s of the phrase “technical difficulties”, the time spent making things right doesn’t seem to have helped much anyhow as the sound, quite frankly, is pretty atrocious - which leads to one particular gig-goer next to me deciding to make mocking faux-soundcheck gestures to the PA technician.

But this may not necessarily be Cults’ own fault, as it appears to be a pattern for the weekend - along with the predictable downfall of everyone’s dignity and the inevitable purchasing of hot dogs at 4am. It’s a singular but sadly fundamental flaw to what would have been an impressive outing for a band finally seeming to get into their stride after a rush-released major label debut. Lead single ‘Go Outside’, however, provokes a mass singalong which nearly makes up for our inability to hear singer Madeline Follin at all.

Perhaps Jason Donovan and the like may not need a heavy sub-bass or piercingly-loud guitar feed, who knows? But for the Jeff Mangum-curated fest in Feb, it may be a good idea for ATP - like the ample amount of punters carting plentiful supplies of booze from the nearby Tesco to their chalets - to bring their own PA.

Tags: Cults, Features

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