19th May | The Lanes

I’m a sucker for the smaller gig. I’m not a man of flare and as far as I’m concerned, the lesser the divide between stage and floor the better. I don’t believe I’m an outlier. So as I take up my perch and wrap my mouth round a depressingly overpriced bottle, I can’t resist to crack a smile as I notice tonight’s openers, INDIGOs, have just enjoyed a wee chat with the sound engineer. You see things are running a little late because the fog machine isn’t quite delivering on its atmospheric promise.

This, however, need not be a problem. One thing glaringly dominant about INDIGOs is the haunting menace that splinters from the mouths of dual vocalists, Sofia Barnes and Jack Croft. Their sinister and snarling tones twist and contort to provide a much thicker blanket of atmospheric smog than any stage prop could cough up. Beneath this awning of alt-rock witchcraft, you’ll find a set of thunderous and beastly rhythmic undercurrents that, when coupled with whirling vocal refrains, develop a tribal quality, a cult-ish mantra.

Interestingly, the set itself seems to shift and grow with each cut. Instrumentation receives layered boosts, rhythmic interplay resonates and guitars screech and grind into a tone not matched since Kurt Cobain discovered the DS1. It certainly feels as though I’m watching a great beast wrestle with the chains around its neck. I have to admit I was disheartened to hear of tonight’s original support, Radiators, pulling out, though in the swampy dirge of INDIGOs 90s alt-rock fuzz, I have found solace.

Crocodiles saunter stage-wards with an altogether different flare. Gone is the menace and in its place a distinctly American scent of leather jacket attitude. Greeting the crowd with a Bristolian ‘babber’ the band launch into a clattering of fantastically sharp guitars that would put The Strokes to shame, but herein lies the magic of Crocodiles. Amongst that cocksure staccato energy lies a bed of noise, a spook-rock sheet of jagged chaos and a Van Gogh sky of twisted psychedelia.

The core members of the band’s ten-plus years of performance experience offer not only their command of the stage but also their technical ability. Jam sections in which flickering bursts of echoed guitar ricochet into slices of splashing cymbals sound like a punk’s first DMT trip, whilst buttery vocal melodies dance fantastically across the far reaches of the venue. It’s endearingly clear that this band could easily write summery indie-bops. The materials are all present, though the project’s longevity in the face of their peers is testament to just how mesmerising their mix of indie, psyche, garage and punk really can be.

Jumping from sections of polished garage aggression to the controlled chaos of krautrock-fused psyche dirge with such fluidity is truly impressive to witness. It certainly rings true to me that nobody else really sounds like Crocodiles.

Closing out the set with the ever anthemic ‘Mirrors’, there is a great wave of classic punk camaraderie cresting amidst the crowd, a wave this band has managed to ride successfully for a decade now and shows no sign of crashing.

See the video for ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ here: