20th October | Rough Trade
Photos: Grace Fitton-Assinder
From its inception way back in the late 70s, Rough Trade Records have consistently held the torch on the frontlines of innovative, independent music. The world may have changed vastly in the four decades between then and now, but Rough Trade has somehow retained its influential position. This is particularly evident as their Bristol venue rapidly reaches capacity for tonight’s offering. Coventry’s FEET are surely humbled by this spectacular turn out.
Bristol’s The Love Handles may still be in their infancy as a band, but their visceral and commanding shade of pop-punk mania is as polished and confident as any of their 90s influences. Smooth and incredibly hook-laden vocal melodies become the focal point of the outfit’s work, flawlessly displayed amongst driving percussion and tight, looping instrumental motifs. There is certainly a memory of mid 00s dance-orientated indie in the band’s rhythmic output, with the occasional homage to thumping disco bass creating a similar air of off-kilter groove to that of Sam Eastgate’s Late of The Pier. Away from the slight slivers of math-rock noodling and Libertines reminiscent bravado, it’s the surprising passages of post-rock and late emo that lend an imposing amount of weight to these tracks, solidifying the band’s sound as something a little more interesting than their peers.
The Shuks take to the stage amidst a cacophonous wave of reverberated ambience, with all the style and commitment of a well-worn arena outfit, though the energy and flamboyance of their collective stage presence will quickly remind you that they are far from bloated or burnt-out. Guttural, aggressive vocals blend seamlessly with distinct, powerful guitar progressions landing like the peculiar love-child of King Krule and The Manic Street Preachers. Beneath the more contemporary aspects of The Shuks’ compositional make-up, there lies a remnant of 60s British rock, with allusions to The Kinks’ brand of hedonistic, unapologetic melody, twisted amongst cocksure flourishes of stylistic flair and a creeping darkness hiding below the band’s apparent outward optimism.
Climbing from beneath the blackness, FEET emerge to a sharp, math-rock-infected intro, orchestrated to intoxicate the room. Careening into the light, it would seem that the band’s influence from neighbouring Manchester runs deep within these gigantic, house-orientated beats and major progressions, heavily reminiscent of The Happy Mondays’ and The Stone Roses’ 90s outputs. There is a faint spark of Mark E Smith in the sardonic intonation of the band’s vocal melodies that provides an interesting juxtaposition amongst the objectively positive instrumentation. It acts to increase a sense of the manic unpredictability that really draws overwhelming attention to this set.
Lending itself fittingly to the Madchester aesthetic, FEET’s intrinsic knack for football chant vocals is both infectious and addictive, leaving no doubt that the iconic Tony Wilson would have seen merit in the outfit’s appeal. Having worked the audience into a hedonistic frenzy it becomes apparent that FEET’s crowd appeal is monumental, with the entire band acting as conductors for this heady, party vibe. As much as their studio work shows great promise, it’s in a live setting that FEET really shine, and when they do, they glow.
See the video for ‘Dog Walking’ here: