Fangclub are one of those bands that I only got into because they supported another band I like. They toured with Milk Teeth earlier in the year and as I was planning to go to one of the shows, I gave them a listen on Spotify. Events conspired against me and unfortunately I couldn’t make it to any of the Milk Teeth shows, but by that point I’d heard enough from Fangclub’s eponymous debut album to know their fuzzy-grunge was right up my street.
And then they kind of fell off my radar a bit. With a thriving British alternative rock scene at the moment there are so many bands to listen to and so many shows to get to. I did however make a point of watching their set at 2000 Trees – and I was blown away. They’ve been in my rotation a lot more since then, and I’ve been dying for the opportunity to see them live again.
So I was chuffed to bits when they announced a short UK tour. I was even more chuffed when they announced that Big Spring would be supporting them for the Manchester show. Big Spring’s bass player Alex also works as a sound engineer and I’d seen on Fangclub’s Instagram feed that they’d been working together on some material. I commented at the time that a Fangclub x Big Spring show would be awesome, so to see it come to pass was super sweet.
First up on the night were Ronda, who although are from my home town Preston, I’d never come across before. As I tend to do, I listened to some of their tracks on Spotify in the lead up to the show. I was a little underwhelmed, their sound probably being a bit too indie for my taste. However, their sound live seemed a lot more beefed up and they came across as having a more garage rock type sound that’s more my kind of thing. I really enjoyed their set, and it was a good start to the night.
Big Spring have the dubious honour of being the first band reviewed on this blog, having seen them opening for Turbowolf back in March. Since then they’ve released a new EP ‘New Wave’. The set opens with the title track from that EP, the fuzzy pulsating bass line ensuring a dramatic start.
Since that March show lead singer Ollie has started playing second guitar on some of the tracks, which works really well, giving some extra depth to sections where lead guitarist Jack can concentrate on adding more intricate accents. Ollie also had to contend with a dodgy guitar strap and a microphone stand that didn’t seem to want to behave itself, but he managed to get through the set ok in the end.
I’m not sure that the second mic was set up properly though, and unfortunately bassist Alex’s backing vocals were really hard to hear. It didn’t hinder the set too much though, the band running through most of the songs from their repertoire including older songs ‘Cold Foot’, ‘Coming Down’, ‘5th of July’ and ‘Buzzards Leave the Bones’ as well as all of the songs from the new EP. The new material seemed to go down particularly well, with the set closing with ‘On a Bamboo Sleeping Mat’.
Another really enjoyable set from the Brighton band. They’re doing a headline tour in April and there’s a promise of more new material on the horizon too. Hopefully I’ll be at their Manchester show at the Castle Hotel on 10th April.
I was at the gig with a couple of guys Ben and Chris, having met Ben at the last Dinosaur Pile-Up show I was at (turns out he’s as big a DPU nut as I am). Whilst we waited for Fangclub to take the stage we tried to second guess what song they’d open with. Ben earned the bragging rights, successfully guessing ‘Knife’, with singer Steven taking a trip in to the crowd with the mic stand to round out the song. It really got the crowd fired up. Opening up with such a big tune, I wasn’t sure they’d be able to keep up that level of intensity… I was wrong. The set was intense. Relentless even.
Fangclub occupy that space occupied by so many of my favourite bands where their music is heavy but still really melodic. As much as I love so many of their songs, it was only when strung together in a set like this that I realised how many great big riffs there are. Riffs for days… Riffs on riffs… Like ordering a double riff burger and asking for extra riff on the side.
True to form, I’d had a few beers at this point… and I’d washed down those beers with a few jack and cokes too, so I might not remember all the songs (I definitely won’t remember them in the right order) but they definitely played:
All Fall Down… BANGER
Better to Forget… BANGER
Sweater Forever… BANGER
Heart Is A Landmine… BANGER
Best Fake Friends… BANGER
Coma Happy… BANGER
Lightning… DOUBLE BANGER
Bad Words… BANGITY-BANGER
There were two new songs in there too. ‘Hesitation’ sits comfortably amongst the rest of their back catalogue but I thought ‘Fever Violence’ really stood out, with a fast and frantic staccato opening riff that explodes into a loud chorus and verse. Definitely one to look forward to on their next release.
There was great interaction between the band and the crowd and a good set of lads down the front getting really in to the show helped add to the atmosphere.
The show ended with ‘Bullet Head’ with Steven taking another trip in to the crowd at then end whilst adding a brutal outro to the song.
Even after the set finished, there was bonus material, with a piano cover of Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ played over the PA, which I only found out later was performed and recorded by the band (…please, please I hope they release this!).
Have to say, I was pretty knackered by the end, but it was a really fun night and has definitely made me an even bigger fan of the band. Can’t wait for more new songs and my next chance to go see them!