Live Review: Howler at Newcastle Cluny – 1st April 2014

By on Friday, 4th April 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Jordan Gatesmith is an unlikely frontman – all gangly limbs and sharp features, mostly hidden by a mop of floppy blonde hair. He keeps banter to a minimum, letting the songs take precedence over personality in his band’s short, sharp, 45-minute set. The Cluny is half-full, a fact that the band seem nonplussed about, casually working out set lists on the stage floor way past their start time. They’re in no hurry, because between their two albums (2012’s ‘America Give Up’, and now the one-week-old ‘World Of Joy’), they’ve no more than a single hour of recorded music to their name. Even if they played every track of both albums (they won’t – of which more later), they’d be tucked up in the Travelodge with a cup of cocoa before the witching hour.

Howler are exactly what one could wish for from a U.S. garage band. Casual onstage, unconcerned with niceties, they knock out one deafening energy bolt after another. In case anyone was concerned that Howler might have overnight turned into a lounge band, the first few seconds of the performance assuage such doubts: ‘Drip’ is fast, furious, ramshackle. ‘Yacht Boys’, Gatesmith’s blunderbuss critique of the boat shoe-wearing American upper middle class, complete with spiked guitar work and roared vocal refrains, is perfectly suited to live delivery. However, subtlety is in inverse proportion to energy levels tonight – more down tempo pieces like ‘Don’t Wanna’ (“you don’t have to be a punk / date girls / listen to the Smiths if you don’t want to”) are given the same whirlwind treatment – introspection is dropped in favour of immediacy.

Also missing in action is the psychedelic tinge that infuses parts of the new album, most notably the title track. Notably penned by guitarist Ian Nygaard rather than Gatesmith, it hints at a potential brave new world where high-speed observational punk-rock coexists and even combines with spaced-out psychedelia. A Howler 2.1 that investigated these possibilities would add another dimension to the band’s sound. However, tonight it is the drum insanity of Rory MacMurdo is the powerhouse that drives Howler. The rest of the band are urged to play faster and louder by MacMurdo’s kit, transforming the whole into greater than the sum of its parts. There are moments when one can see through the artifice: a quartet of teenagers rehearsing in a parent’s garage, striving to stand out from the Graham’s number of other similarly housebound aspirants. But it’s their genuinely melodic, meaningful songs, paired with a delivery with just the right mixture of careless virtuosity and attitude, which confirm Howler’s membership of the big league.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required
 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us

Privacy Policy