Live Review

Howler, King Tut’s, Glasgow

Tonight provides a fair snapshot of guitar music in 2012.

Glasgow’s legendary King Tut’s is a venue with a certain degree of resonance for new bands. Many bands have stopped off here on their way the top; the stairs leading up to the venue provide a year-by-year list of some of the illustrious names that have played there, from Suede and Oasis to Biffy Clyro and Florence & The Machine amongst countless others. Tonight’s headliners Howler, however, are a band that pay little heed to tradition and are unlikely to be cowed by the history of the venue: their mission is simply to have a good time and play some rock n roll songs. A simple approach that is staggeringly effective as the NME’s ‘Generation Next’ tour rolls into Scotland.

Gross Magic’s Sam McGarrigle is a beguiling stage presence. He gives you the impression that he is a man who cannot be easily roused no matter what the occasion is but his band deliver an opening set high on thrills. He doesn’t sound entirely as you would imagine; it’s an intriguing mix of lo-fi grunge rock mixed with the ebullient sound of glam rock, and the overall effect is redolent of a slacker pop T-Rex, a reference that is in keeping with set highlight ‘Telegram Tim’.

The Cast Of Cheers offer up more cerebral fare. Their sound owes a fair amount to the jerky dance floor aesthetics of early Foals but they lack the Oxford gang’s rhythmic intensity. They certainly lack for nothing when it comes to energy, however. Their invigorating set keeps the pace running nicely.

As always seems to be the case with Howler they arrive on stage in high spirits. Singer Jordan Gatesmith is a constant chatterbox. There is a strong relationship between band and audience, which fosters a real celebratory spirit throughout the performance. Gatesmith endears himself to the crowd while proclaiming his love for Buckfast and spends half the show trying to flog his home made t-shirts. An enthralled crowd hangs off his every word no matter how goofy. Despite their easygoing nature, there is a real sense of whip smart cool around Howler. Highlights from their debut album ’America Give Up’ are dispensed with an insouciant efficiency with ’I Told You Once’ and ’Beach Sluts’ whipping up the attentive crowd into a frenzy.

Two new songs provide an indication of where the band is headed. ‘Ipecac’ swings rather than bludgeons and shows the band can be far more than Strokes copyists; it’s unlikely the Strokes ever had this much fun at a show. A closing sing-along run through of ‘Back Of Your Neck’ provides a fittingly rousing finish.

Tonight provides a fair snapshot of guitar music in 2012. The three very distinct bands complement each other very well. Whether any of them will appear on King Tut’s staircase in the future remains to be seen but for now, they are just enjoying the ride.

Tags: Howler, Features

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