Live Review

Splashh, Cargo, London

In terms of a summer-defining set, this barely makes a ripple.

Photo: Sarah Doone
‘Psych’, ‘slacker’ and ‘hallucinogenic’ are words that get bandied about now in nigh on all band introductions. So a Cargo-hosted splurge of three relative newcomers, who each dabble in this dazed 90s nostalgia to varying degree, may present a grab-worthy opportunity for some to mentally sort the wheat from the chaff.

Regretfully, if this is the case, then openers Popstrangers fall into the latter part of the idiom. The New Zealand trio may have veered nonchalantly between visceral improv and hypnotic college rock on enticing debut album ‘Antipodes’, but its live reproduction feels about as well executed as an operation might, if the surgeon was forced to hold his scalpel with one of those giant foam hands. That said, there’s slight reprieve in the ever-dizzying hook of ‘Heaven’ - its infectious refrain still proving glorious despite Joel Flyger’s shoddy, muffled mic - but the rest goes to show there’s more to being Tame Impala than simply stabbing at stomp boxes with your big toe.

On the contrary, elusive B-town band Superfood - who’ve been plagued by the sort of pressurising buzz usually only experienced by fridge repairmen - certainly don’t lack charm or mettle. They kick off with the hedonistic, Britpop-indebted ‘TV’, which only reinforces their widely reported penchant for ‘Leisure’-era Blur - but there’s certainly more at play here. ‘Always meet me at the parking lot’ growls Dom Ganderton mid-set, his vocal blend of irreverence and rasp owing equally to Stephen Malkmus, circa ‘Brighten The Corners’, and Kurt Cobain. Of course, it’s an interesting hybrid when coupled with Ryan Malcolm’s gritty guitar on eponymous closer ‘Superfood’, which could be the jagged racket of Rivers Cuomo and Gaz Coombes if they were forced to plug into the same amp. Needless to say, it’s rousing stuff; like a transatlantic 90s super group who settled their differences to soundtrack your hazy, wasted youth.

Of course, Splashh’s sonic intentions are similar and the excitement surrounding rousing debut album ‘Comfort’ (now due in September) means an incendiary performance in East London tonight is surely on the cards. Marking their biggest capital headline show to date, they emerge to a backdrop of mind-warping visuals, before dropping the woozy, sludge-pop of ‘Strange Fruit’; the sound of TOY, perhaps, if they were holed up in Great Yarmouth with nothing to snack on but sleeping pills.

It’s a strong start marred by a meandering prog-out called ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’; the new song that reveals the Anglo-Antipodean’s worrying inclination towards the joylessly ostentatious. In fact, Toto Vivian’s bull in a china shop snarl, not world’s away from a certain beady Manc, is far better suited to the record’s direct earworms rather than anything too intelligently cosmic - the thrilling ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ of a thunderous ‘Headspins’, some tracks later, proving this point entirely.

However, the set turns sour when a whistling sound desk prompts Vivian to bellow ‘what the fuck is going on with my microphone?’ after a kaleidoscopic jaunt through ‘Vacation’ is rudely interrupted. It then haunts again on finale ‘Need It’, which sees him sack off his vocal duties entirely and spearhead some rather tedious instrumental experimentation. Among the guitar belches and depressing stage invasion (honestly, one girl stays rooted by the monitors on her smartphone) it dawns; this isn’t actually that much fun at all. Splashh may have a handful of hazy anthems under their belt, but in terms of a summer-defining set, this barely makes a ripple.

Tags: Splashh, Features

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