Sometimes it’s cool to just go completely Larry Last-Minute on a gig, and take a chance on a couple of promising young bands for an evening’s entertainment. Case in point; tonight’s hosts Broken Hands and Get Inuit, a couple of acts from Kent, who are currently rocking around the UK’s toilet circuit together in a bid to get their music to a wider audience. Fair play to ‘em! I’d come across Broken Hands before, playing an intriguing set of psych/ Krautrock in support of Howler at the Louisiana 18 months ago (gig 908), but Get Inuit were a fairly new name to me, although I’d followed them on Facebook after a couple of NME.com-recommended bouncy guitar-heavy vids piqued my curiosity.
So, t’was a late shout and a cautious drive down an increasingly foggy M4 listening to the Mexican Grand Prix, parking up in a deserted Trenchard at 8.15 and hitting an equally quiet Start The Bus, across the road from the Hippodrome, shortly after. Through the black curtain partition separating the venue from the main pub, local openers Diving Bell were plying their trade to the ubiquitous Big Jeff plus a half-dozen other punters from the corner stage. I only caught a couple, of which the last, “Slate”, was their best, recalling My Vitriol with a powerful rock base and some textural guitar riffery, plus an impassioned vocal howl to finish. I remarked on the MV comparison to the vocalist, who took it as, “a huge compliment – I’m still waiting for their second album!” Me too, but don’t hold your breath, mate…!
Get Inuit set up in pretty short order and kicked into their set shortly after 8.45; a chunky surf/ powerpop opener, with some soaring, high-pitched vocals, recalled Surfer Blood’s excellent “Swim”, and thereafter they cranked up the ante with an amphetamine blast second number. “I Am The Hot Air” followed, and I felt like I was watching Silver Sun back in the 90’s all over again –bespectacled vocalist Jamie resembled da Sun’s gawky, Buddy Holly clone vocalist James Broad in a certain light, and the boy was certainly giving his tonsils a good workout, some notes scraping the ceiling in a similar style to Broad’s helium-fuelled tones! “Procrastinator” which Jamie introduced as being, “chuffed with the depth in the lyrics,” was a change-of-pace surf punk romp with some gabbled quickfire proto-New Wave verses, and set closer “Mean Heart” was a potential Summer anthem, the infectious circular poppy hook of, “I’m out of mind” jet-propelled by a driving, soaring beat. Great stuff; like a whole chunk of infectious, upbeat Summer pop bands condensed through a decidedly 2015 filter – what’s not to like about Get Inuit?
A brief chat with vocalist Jamie and Jeff (he agreed with my Silver Sun comparison) while Broken Hands were setting up their keyboards and gear onstage, then we were onto promising band 2 of the night in short order. Considerably darker than their contemporaries and tour-buddies, Broken Hands came on to a darkened stage and an eerie radio transmission and bleeping feedback loop, an apposite scene setter for their moodier yet no less intriguing and entertaining set. Second number “Should I” featured the entirely appropriate lyric of, “am I just tripping”, as the layers of siren sounds, distorted, echoey vocals and descending synth notes gave it the impression of a hazy, blissed out and half-remembered dream, and the subsequent “Who Sent You” was a more strident number, with tumbling tribal drums overlaying some bone-crunchingly fearsome psych-blues guitar riffery. We again got the “meteor” double, with “Impact” a fractured, widescreen anthem, all gut-wrenching drama, and “Meteor” a metronomic dystopian thrillride, dark and menacing. Vocalist Dale Norton, possessor of a strident and haunting, pseudo gothic Jim Morrison voice, is also a young man with plenty of confidence and stage presence, his jumpabout, kinetic performance almost recalling a young Julian Cope. Yup, that good. The set drew to an end with Norton thanking us profusely for coming out (“this is the only Sunday of our tour; god bless the Sabbath, god bless rock!”), final number “Turbulence” closing out a set bristling with fire, mystery and invention.