Live Review: Calvinball, Arms Aloft, Pure Graft and Headroom – Tiger Lounge, Manchester – 17/03/2014

imageA mate of mine pointed at how, in recent years, opening bands are really good. Such a statement is down to a matter of debate, but considering this conversation birthed after tonight’s opening band, I can’t fault him. Manchester emo punks Headroom have triggered internet excitement since they released their demo last year. With members of Survival and Nai Harvest in the mix, there’s a good combination in bite and delicacy. Frontman Ben Thompson strains vocal angst, despite it being a tad weathered over the last few days playing with his other band Nai Harvest. Nevertheless, the quartet provides a fine performance; a bit of patchwork here and there, and its sure to be perfect in time. (4/5)

Newcastle/Leeds bunch Pure Graft tears back the melancholy with a flailing swing of fun. Gruff sprung yells clench around in a riff filled void of awesome. The punk rock pace these guys have on a leash, simply doesn’t want to relax, thus it continues in anthemic success. A little repetitive at times, yet as previously stated, its good fun to watch. (3.5/5)

Wisconsin punks Arms Aloft have been touring tirelessly throughout Europe in the last month with Sheffielders Calvinball, who are disbanding once this trek has been completed. Their entire set is dedicated to their compadres, and they give it with a gruff filled kiss from start to finish. Arms Aloft growl with gravelly vocals; upon layer after layer of whimsical hand on heart punk, the vocals shine. It’s a solid set to behold, even if they are a little familiar in sound. (4/5)

As mentioned previously, this current tour is Calvinball’s last. Last year, guitarist Joe Lawrence left the band for a new life in Australia. In his stead, on this tour, Arms Aloft’s Alex Bammel takes rhythm guitar duties. Despite this reshuffle, the quartet is on fine form to deliver a fantastic farewell at their last Manchester show tonight.

This small tight knit room of fans and band fit together as if one has drunkenly found the right key to the front door. Once the key has been turned and the door opens, proceedings stumble upon happy results! Songs like ‘A Toast for Those Who Drink the Most’, ‘Brighter Lights’ and ‘The Lost City of Atlanta’ contain marvellous choruses, which sees glasses raised and voices heard. With a human pyramid and a cover of Weezer’s ‘Tired of Sex’ thrown in for good measure, you can’t help but feel those spirits brightened on a solemn Monday night. Although it may not be over just yet, Calvinball’s farewell tour seems to be an ambivalent celebration. (4/5)

4/5

Words by Aaron Lohan (@ooran_loohan)

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