Mayans | Live Review

mayansBy Chris Fear

The 21st of December 2012, if we believe the word of ancient prophets, is the apocalypse. The day when the Mayan calendar finally comes to an end and something massive will be ‘revealed’ to humanity. Whilst obviously not members of an ancient civilisation, ‘dreamy pop’ Bristol namesakes, Mayans and their latest single release left me feeling like something mysteriously intriguing had been revealed to me by the end of the night.

Openers, Let’s Kill Janice delivered an engaging set of loud and grungy, frenetic pop-punk at a tempo that made you sincerely consider the welfare of the drummer. Seriously, if the poor guy pummeled his kit any harder or faster it looked as if he’d either break a limb or the sound barrier. They were followed by Weston-super-Mare boys, Tidal Wars: purveyors of Horrors-esque post-punk, with a fuzz-heavy edge and attitude to match.

Indie/ Alt four-piece Towers performed arguably the best support slot of the night. Musically tight and possessing a set of crafted songs, Towers surprised and intrigued me. The singer’s voice somehow marries delicate fragility with punk scorn. Throughout the engaging set she managed to balance her vocals between sounding like they could shatter into a thousand pieces, and sounding like they could shatter your face into a thousand pieces. She’s in complete command of her voice, the band are in complete control of their instruments and after that set I am, unapologetically, Towers latest fanboy.

With the support bands hurriedly packing their instruments away, its now time for the headliners and the purpose of the night: a single launch. Taking to the stage at a prompt 10:15pm, Mayans leap straight into their new release, firmly establishing the fact that they are already great architects of noise.

Their set is focused, tight, slick and energetic. The band power through a mixture of new songs and old. Constantly evolving, haunting and ethereal at moments, then violent and heavy at others. The audience reactions seem to reflect this: halfway through their performance mosh-pits intermittently spring up, the centre of the crowd becoming a swirling mass of heaving boys and girls.

New single ‘ Calm You’, has all the makings of a pop-shoegaze hit. Admittedly, a pop-shoegaze hit hasn’t occurred yet, but in this single there is definitely the potential for it. Ultimately, the track is accessible but subtle, and pretty complex. If Mayans know one thing, it’s how to layer a song. A simple combination of a stripped-back guitar riff, a driving bassline, fluttering drums built on a firm foundation of noise and an annoyingly contagious vocal melody, creates a track that will burn itself into the fabric of your brain in a matter of 2 minutes, 50 seconds.

With their last song finished and the mosh-pits imploded, the band shed their instruments and abruptly leap into the crowd. They’re swiftly hoisted on sweaty shoulders and carried aloft from the stage towards the bar like Mayan Gods heading to some mysterious ritual: the revealing of their new single over, and ahead of the Mayan calendar apparently, eight months early to be precise.