Live: Baton Rouge / She Crazy / Crows-an-Wra / Lower Slaughter
It’s a long while since I attempted to write a gig review. This show proved to be such an excellent evening, however, that I was determined to write about it. Then I had one pint too many, woke up the next day with a substantial hangover and remembered why I had stopped writing such reviews: because I usually can’t remember enough of them to have much to say.
Still, never say never.
Apologies to Lower Slaughter: we arrived just as they were beginning, but as we were waiting for someone we ended up sat outside during their set. Thanks to the Albert’s somewhat leaky soundproofing the gist of their music was audible, and it sounded pretty cool. Here’s a video of them playing at the Albert a couple of months earlier; make your own mind up.
Props to Crows-an-Wra for having an impressively energetic, enthusiastic frontman who didn’t regard it as his personal mission to get everyone to dance. I know it’s a Brighton thing that people here don’t tend to get physical, particularly at smaller shows, but it’s cool to enjoy stuff your own way, right? And there’s plenty to enjoy: this is screamo that sounds like it’s having a good fucking time, not scratching clichéd melancholy into the back of a pencilcase. Most of their songs, generally packed with fantastic riffs and licks, successfully find the balance between technical precision and sounding like they’re going to fall apart. I’m a big fan of great musicianship that makes you feel as if the song is balanced precariously on top of a skateboard moving at high speed, leaving you concerned that the whole frenetic experience is going to tumble into disarray any second but never actually doing so. You can hear their work over on Bandcamp.
I felt that Crows-an-Wra would be a tough act to follow, but She Crazy! didn’t seem fazed, throwing themselves into it with easygoing confidence and engaging positivity. Band banter can be entertaining and it can be cringeworthy; it’s down to the mood in the room as much as the personalities of the folks on stage. Fortunately for those in attendance both were passing the high bar. As for She Crazy’s sound, think driving hooky riffs with a faintly grungey feel cut through them. I vaguely recall at the time thinking they reminded me a bit of the Riverboat Gamblers; I’m not sure I hear that listening back to them now, but they’ve definitely got some of that punk rock ‘n roll swagger in common. Awesome fun when you’re a few pints deep, and I look forward to seeing them again. Their Bandcamp page is here and it looks like they’ve got a music video here (it features a Wolfman, so get to it).
When French headliners Baton Rouge took to the stage the anticipation in the room was palpable (not to mention that it was pretty packed out). There’s no one else producing music quite like Baton Rouge: precise, delicate and yet forceful post-hardcore of an emotional bent with French-language lyrics delivered in an often plaintive tone, they’re a deeply special band. Not yet having heard their new LP, Totem, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that on this occasion “more of the same” proved neither disappointing nor short on pleasant surprises (“more of the same” is probably unfair on Totem, by the way, as music like this needs time to breathe in your heart and mind). The room, predictably, went crazy (by Brighton standards; see that fourth paragraph again) when they played ‘Que Des Fils’, which I can only describe as a combination of the best noodly, twinkly emo punk riffs of a few years back, The Van Pelt’s ‘Nanzen Kills a Cat’ and those previously mentioned wonderful, slightly cracking French vocals. I have no idea what the song is about, but I love it. Baton Rouge’s music is all available via Bandcamp. Just fucking listen to it.
[This show took place at the Prince Albert in Brighton on the 27th of November.]