Thursday, September 17, 2009
THE TOFF IN TOWN
With tables drawn to the front of the stage like pups to a teat, and standing-room only behind, it must be a strange situation for tonight’s bands, more used to the ramshackle charm of Old Bar or The Birmingham. But tonight’s show with its brilliant sound system and warmly appreciative crowd makes them sound comfortably at home.
Despite the bizarrely uninviting name Dick Diver have fast accrued credibility during their short time together, and waste no time showing why. Kicking off with a gritty pop swagger the bang-on harmonies and soaring, stinging guitars of frontmen Rubert Edwards and Alistair McKay have a complementary charm that belies their fresh sound. Through The Deep’s chugging warmth and the idyllic ripples of On The Bank show there’s a lot to love.
Inadvertently commemorating a Top 50 debut for their first album Songs For Tuesdays in the American College Music (CMJ) charts, and with a fan-winning performance, Summer Cats prove they’re a band moving in leaps and bounds. From the thrilling opener Let’s Go to the rousing shambolic glee of Paperweight the pre-grunge buzzsaw pop this country once did so well is still alive and as vital as ever. Enough dynamics are invested in the songs to ensure everyone gets to drink their beer by the show’s end and not a note or moment is wasted.
Launching a single most of the audience are already well familiar with seems oddly appropriate for Crayon Fields. So cherished are they that even a below-par show would leave most of us happy. What we get however is the most convincing argument imaginable for the word twee to never apply to this band again. Neil Erenstrom’s skin-punishingly emphatic accents drive the songs like Hal Blaine auditioning for Animal Collective, Chris Hung’s blistering lead work takes further toll on his already decrepit Telecaster while Tim Picone’s molasses-thick basslines allow Geoff O’Connor’s softly insistent melodies to walk quietly and carry a big stick. There has always been much more to Crayon Fields than the timorous persona of O’Connor and self-effacing grace of their songs suggest, but it’s not until tonight with the dynamite sound system that the sheer force of the band becomes apparent. From their criminally short songs to the Secret Garden-style stage decorations, there’s nothing reclusive about this band, and, given the rising profiles of all of tonight’s bands, we can safely say The Toff bore witness world class performances tonight.