I’m wary of starting a review of a fairly well-attended gig, headlined by a band who few present will have heard much of beforehand, with a moan. But hey, it’s never stopped me before. People! If you’ve come out early and paid your fiver for three bands, why disappear completely before 9.00? You might miss something you’d love! I mean, enduring mediocrity for the sake of it is daft, but at least give the rest of the bill a chance. Ah well.
Anyway, praise is due for Kutosis‘ approach to this midweek jaunt; first-on local bands can get a raw deal, but not with Loose, and when you sense a band hasn’t bothered promoting their own gig it’s a bit disheartening. Kutosis, though, have enthusiastically badgered dozens of people to come out early in support. Good form, and the band play a blinder in their first Cardiff gig since playing Reading and Leeds festivals. Their former eyes-front ramalama style has been changed up a little, Ian starting off guitarless and revelling in some light posing, and the songs themselves have more toughness, tricks and turns these days. Snappy, catchy punk-pop recalling Mo-Ho-Bish-O-Pi with a dash of Jarcrew noise thrown in.
Wonderswan are a very late-decade affair; one of a bunch of young UK bands who ape, often note-for-note, the best and brightest of US early 90s slacker-pop and coat it with a layer of crunch and dynamics that those originals shied away from. After a red-herring opening instrumental more muscular and Mudhoney-heavy than anything that follows, they turn into a faithful Pavement tribute. The two guitarists settle into that studied, floppy-limbed slacker template, the vocalist pitches his mid-Atlantic mumble just so and the guitar lines ape Slanted & Enchanted to a tee. It’s not a bad thing, just not one you feel they should stick too slavishly to without developing. Early days though, and they are entertaining for all that; the bassist has bizarrely opted to play offstage, and he spends the set strafing imaginary foes with the neck of his bass. The drummer looks like a Halloween pumpkin carved into the shape of Mark Arm.
“Lo-fi pedigree”. Oxymoronic, maybe, or just plain moronic. Sic Alps bring it, though; a San Francisco indie label owner and an ex-member of Coachwhips, and their recorded output has fuzzed-up tunes and tape-splicing experiments in equal measure. They’re joined here, though, by Comets On Fire man Noel von Harmonson, and that’s a big clue to their hugely appealing live sound. The splintered, two-minute noise-pop tunes owe as much to Nuggets-era West Coast psychedelia as anything else, and the convergance of the two and the easy likeability they give off in playing it are hugely infectious. It’s a nifty lesson in how to present a largely unknown touring band, giving the more ho-hum moments from those albums the elbow and not only keeping the remaining punters interested but winning plenty of converts. See? They just needed a bit of patience, people.