“Give Peace A Chance”, sang a world-weary Lennon in 1969. It’s a sentiment that could be echoed by defenders of cooking-pot indie purveyors, Peace – after all, to anyone 16+, their bulk unifying amalgamation of rock’s rich tapestry could warrant the lowered eyebrows of cynicism. True, their reference points can be tallied up in a heartbeat, but 2013 has been a good year for the hallowed, Birmingham conquerors and deservedly so; ‘B-town’ continued to bob up as a much-uttered buzzword for all things primitive and fun, before debut album ‘In Love’ delivered one of the year’s only consistent collections of stonewall alternative hits. It was like Suede circa ’93, but for a generation that Instagrams its meals.
Of course, no one has appeared to ride the coat tails of that daftly-christened scene and it’s frivolous soundtrack more than tonight’s openers, Superfood – although, their status as just another gang of Britpop-indebted pin-ups from Brum underplays their smarts somewhat. Tonight, the trashy garage racket of ‘Bubbles’ proves to be all the best things about the early 90s rolled into one; a slack, grungy intro, some brilliant Coxon-like interludes and a chorus so whopping you could spy it’s sprawling hook descending from outer space. By the time the funky rhythm and cooed charm of their eponymous debut track, ‘Superfood’, chugs into view, it feels like they’re almost certain to be topping their own bill in similar surrounds this time next year.
For Drenge this feat should come much sooner – their name almost feels like it should be plastered in big block letters on SBE’s exterior as well tonight, seen as their exhilarating set gets a slot-defyingly intense reception. Far more than someone else’s erratic warm up, their venomous brute-rock is mooned over from it’s dizzying early forays to it’s even dizzier climax (‘Face Like A Skull’). It’s especially unrefined during a cacophonous ‘Bloodsports’, which sees the floor below recoil, wriggle and writhe, like a pack of ravenous mongrels scrapping for a nonchalantly-slung slab of meat. Better still though is ‘Fuckabout’, a moment of Arctic Monkeys-ish clarity that proves they have other avenues to explore should they ever fall out of love with such short blasts of ballsy riffage.
One band who should never lose adoration for their formula though, are this evening’s headliners, because what makes them sparkle at every turn is their stunning knack for an earworming hook. Blistering opener ‘Waste Of Paint’ prompts “electric, honey”s to ricochet around the room, before ‘Higher Than The Sun”s twangy 12-string riff is echoed by the baying mass in full and throaty yelp. Naturally, the melodies are unshakeable, especially consumed amongst company that oozes such buoyant positivity. It’s something singer Harry Koisser even nods to by confirming the attendance as “four layers of legends” before a gloriously executed ‘Float Forever’ subtly sprinkles it’s magic. Then, ‘Wraith’ provokes even more movement, not least from Koisser, who’s the perfect mix of Brett Anderson and Marc Bolan throughout, twisting inside a skin tight shirt that’s so nipple-revealing it looks as though it was pinched from a size 6 French mime.
Although, if it was missing one, the night’s majestic moment comes courtesy of their Foals-y Binary Finary cover, ‘1998 (Delicious)’, which sees a swarm of silver confetti spat from the ceiling at it’s, quite frankly, excellent climax. It’s sullied, very marginally, by a slightly routine, psych-tinged Wham Christmas cover, but that’s nothing that a swift dose of ‘Bloodshake’ can’t eradicate. With the titanic refrain pinging off every wall to utter jubilation, it seems that no other band currently wields such visible devotion.
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