Live at The Library on Friday, 31st January 2014
Tonight is a big night for the 360 Club. The weekly night upstairs at The Library has been chosen to represent Leeds during the events celebrating Independent Venue Week, which means that the BBC's Alan Raw is comparing and recording the evening's musical entertainment. Fortunately the bill that has been put together is deserving of such an occasion, with two of West Yorkshire's most promising rock outfits, in the shape of Forever Cult and Allusondrugs, performing their first Leeds' shows of the year (you can be fairly certain they won't be the last).
But before the co-headliners take to the stage we are treated to two other bands keen to prove their mettle and their rock credentials. First up are nu-grunge screamers Fizzler who, with their chaotic yet tuneful thrash, sound not unlike early Bleach-era Nirvana. Frontman Lee Newman even has the long, lank hair (which he spends a lot of the time singing through, making him look like the rebellious offspring of Cousin It) and the propensity to perform topless that typified the original Seattle look. A Nirvana-sized future may not be theirs for the taking but the crunching riffs, unbridled passion and flailing energy of their performance certainly will stand them in good stead on the live scene and, perhaps more importantly, gets tonight off to a promising start.
Sheffield's Perfect Crimes are a slightly different proposition. Where Fizzler take their cue from the plaid-shirted scene of the early nineties, Perfect Crimes touchstones are the bands of the eighties hard rock scene, that may or may not include Sheffield brethren Def Leppard. Their studded belts, classic rock riffs and the Bon Scott howls of singer Kriss Woodcock stick out like a sore thumb amongst tonight's company but what they do, they do with a studied proficiency that is admirable enough, but it all feels a little affected. Only on Come Around do they fully convince, with new guitarist Joe Hearnshaw letting loose in impressive style. Letting go of the posturing suits them; it's just a shame they don't do it more often. Tonight is not their milieu but you can well imagine that in front of a hard rock crowd their brand of priapic riffage would receive a more enthusiastic response.
The evening achieves lift off with the arrival of Huddersfield's Forever Cult, who turn in a typically pulsating set of crunching alternative rock with a distinct grunge flavour (singer Kieran even sports what appears to be a hand drawn t-shirt, so beloved of the original grunge community). The band are here to launch their new EP on Clue Records. Lead song Suntrap is an impressive slice of reigned in, melodic grunge replete with an evocative, soaring chorus but the band really hit their straps when the tempo and noise levels are increased. Graves finds Clarke delivering a throat-shredding vocal to accompany a foot-to-the-floor, no-holds-barred rock song. On the other hand, Luck has a familiar quiet/loud structure but the pile driving chorus hits you square between the eyes with its ferocity and sheer volume. It is also insanely catchy, to the point that you might well find yourself absent-mindedly humming the chorus two days later whilst waiting for the bus. They may not be pushing the sonic envelope but if what you are looking for are consummately played rock songs to throw yourself around to, Forever Cult are the band for you.
As good as they are though Allusondrugs, the Castleford five piece, just pip them for performance of the night. Judged on their recorded output you would place them towards the hard rock end of the spectrum - MyCat has an Alice In Chains feel - but live they are far closer to the sort of deranged, yet controlled implosion practiced by At The Drive-In. Seeing this band live is an experience you will not quickly forget. The opening note of their set has barely evaporated before the band are careering around the stage. They certainly don't lack for confidence either. Two songs in and frontman Connor is demanding that Alan Raw invite them in for a session - he agrees, as you suspect most of those in the room would if they were in his position. But as good as their songs are, and the gloriously pounding likes of Cherry Pie and Handicapped (which is dedicated to Connor's dad) are superb if unsubtle, it is the charisma of frontman Connor that elevates Allusondrugs to another level. He is a performer in the true sense of the word and an unpredictable one at that. When he is encouraged to take his top off by a member of the crowd, he lightheartedly snaps back that 'this isn't Hooters'. Yet it isn't long before he is a bare-chested sweaty mess and with their drummer also shirtless there is more flesh on display than at Hugh Hefner's birthday parties. Watching Allusondrugs is like witnessing sulphur coming into contact with water - the explosive, kinetic energy is impossible to take your eyes off. This is everything a rock gig should be - a thrilling cacophony.
Alternative Rock band from Leeds.