I arrive at the Garage in Highbury a bit later than advertised door time, and can already hear the faint strains of first band on Bad News as I’m standing on the narrow stairway to the intimate upstairs venue. There’s a full feeling as you step into the venue, a sense of anticipation that’s palpable amongst the bunched up groups of kids checking out band shirts for the headliners Hindsights (who are launching their debut album ‘Cold Walls/Cloudy Eyes’ here tonight), or checking in on social networks. Bad News have a shoegaze love with big guitar fuzz mixed into simple but enjoyable riffs. the fuzz envelopes us, then theres a riff than cuts through it like a dagger. It’s perfectly enjoyable, but they seem a tiny bit overwhelmed by the crowd, and I’m sympathetic, but It feels like they’re glad to be able to step off the stage. Theres polite applause from the crowd who seem receptive, but not as engaged as they seem to be for the next band. (2.5/5)
The anticipation rises for the much lauded Creeper and there’s a definite shift in audience members forwards to get a good view of Will Gould and co. Creeper sound like bay area punk rawk bands but look like they were raised on the ramones and the misfits. ‘Honeymoon Suite’ especially reminds me of older AFI – ‘Black Sails in the Sunset’ era; fast, sharp and completely danceable. Their recent single ‘VCR’ gets a lot of the audience sweaty and happily bounce around in front of the stage, and there’s no shortage of people ready to sing along with the harmonies. They may not be the most emotional or have the greatest range of sound, but that’s what its about, simple and snotty. It gets blood pumping and is a great warm up for their friends and headliners Hindsights. (3.5/5)
The crowd bunches up as the recorded spoken word intro music plays (and ok, sure, we’ve all been there, but it comes off a bit cheesier than I think it was intended), and when the band get on stage there’s a surge forward, and the crowd swells and breaks over the stage with the first rush of crowd surfers, mixed with raised arms of singing fans and the metal of the lighting rig. The new tracks like ‘Cold Walls’ receive slightly tentative praise but there are already firm fans who’re singing along for good reason. The vocals and harmonies on ‘Colour Blind’ feel like a good step forward from their previous record (although it reminds me of a lot of British bands circa 2003/2004), and the mix of loud and quiet guitar doesn’t persuade the crowdsurfers to let up. Every track is another excuse to lose it. You can see the confidence of the band growing with each raised fist and shouted vocal line. When they announce: “Alright guys, you know this” and the beginning of HIFH-esque fan favourite ‘Fluoxetine’is strummed, the crowd react like it’s an encore, and lap it up.
My main complaint is that it’s just hard to get the more subdued tracks across as well, ‘Daze’ doesn’t quite do the justice it does on record for example, but it’s a small price to pay for such a fun atmosphere. The main thrust of this is party and to celebrate the album, and celebrate they do. Album closer ‘Sore’ gets a great reaction, and it hooks people in to singing along, with a big billowing chorus that bursts out and gets a good reaction. (3.5/5)
The 10 o’clock curfew rolls around sooner than expected, but there’s no rushing for more of the audience to leave. There’s plenty of hands being shaked, hugs and albums being bought. I’ve got to admit, for a band who sing about a lot of anxiety and dealing with negative emotion, they’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Words by Heather Robertson (@thecuriosity)