The band does seem to have struck a chord with the student population of Cardiff, and whilst the ticket said 14+, there wasn’t a soul below the legal drinking age inside. What this should have meant was a crowd fuelled by alcohol ready to ruin their trainers and sweat through their shirts to whatever was on stage, not the hit-seekers that turned up.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Outfit were your typical opening act; a young band still trying to find their voice and passing through The Smiths, The Cure, Hot Chip and Pet Shop Boys along the way. They did have one real track to their name in ‘Thank God I’m Dreaming’ so listen to that if curious and avoid the rest.
Dutch Uncles on the flipside are old hands at this game, winning over crowds with their own brand of math-pop that often takes a turn for math-rock in a big way. Single ‘Face/off’ goes down particularly well when paired with some Thom Yorke style grooving courtesy of frontman Duncan Wallis.
When the night’s headliners did take the stage, to the expected amount of hollering, they weren’t decked out in the matching uniforms of past tours, instead they were understatedly dressed, and for the most part played in the dark. Well, aside from frontman Jonathon Higgs who would be playing loud and proud at centre stage throughout the night.
‘Qwerty Finger’ was the first of the ‘hits’ to be rolled out. Unfortunately lacking the same punch it has on record, with Higgs’s vocals turned up far too loud and the guitar and synths struggling to be heard behind the drum kit. The effect being that the usually lively track had little impact on the crowd. And whilst the more subdued opening of ‘Torso Of The Week’ did sound far superior with this set-up, any foray into he heavier sections of the track resulted in trying to remember what the instruments did on the album from memory.
‘My KZ Ur BF’ was the first to get bodies on the dance floor. However, as impeccable as Higgs vocals are live, with the audience often trying to keep up with the breakneck spiralling speed of his frolicking falsetto lyrics, the level was still turned up far too high and distracts from the brilliance of the band’s songwriting.
Though that voice is indeed astonishing, and leaves you in awe during the minimalist performances of ‘Choice Mountain’ and night highlights ‘Tin (the Manhole)’ and ‘The Peaks’ played back to back. With the latter’s trademark lines of ‘I’ve seen more villages burn than animals born \ and I’ve seen more towers come down than children grow up’ taking on conscious piercing beauty that leaves you speechless.
The problem on the night however was that Higgs vocals sound best when they’re either left alone to play the one and only role, or when they’re woven between the spiralling synths and math-pop guitar melodies that make the band such an exciting and eclectic listen. But tonight they’re overpowering the mix and leaving the more complex tracks sounding like they’re missing a piece or two of their proverbial jigsaw puzzle.
Eventually the audience did get themselves fully involved through the traditional rock of Arc bonus track ‘No Plan’, that gets the indiest of mosh pits going, and ‘Kemosabe’ which has the throng singing along with little chance of reaching the pitch range that Higgs possesses. ‘Suffragette Suffragette’ gets the biggest sing-a-long of the night as Higgs allows the audience to take control of belting out the chorus’ famously misquoted lines before the band’s rockiest of rock riffs crashes into play.
By far the biggest reception of the night was held back for single ‘Cough Cough’, never before had I seen a man clear his throat into a microphone and get such a response. The camera phones did unfortunately rear their ugly heads but this is only an indication that the band has started to succeed in their quest for more mainstream success.
The night came to a close in the only way an Everything Everything gig really can - in the fantastically perfect closing number of ‘Weights’, which possesses one of the greatest closing couple of minutes in a live indie-pop show right now. But as good as the performances were, it felt like you’d gone to see the Jonathon Higgs show rather than experience Everything Everything’s records translated live.
By Mikey Rush