8th November | Exchange

The suffocating and harrowing political anxiousness that would proceed after tonight’s performance at the Exchange was, at this point in the early evening, perhaps a side note of humbling denial in the minds of its attendants and bands playing. Yet Preoccupations’ stunning governing of sound and emotion seemed to leave a pertinent and poignant brace for what was to follow – their live set an alarming awakening to the power we each hold in our hands and how such self-awareness holds vast consequences in personal and broad terms.

A thoroughly engaging and actively cohesive set of bands made such judgements unavoidable throughout the night, and rightly so – as each band tore with conviction in presentation and sheer control of their craft.

Bristol’s Scarlet Rascal have found clear identification in their consternation – channelling their declarations live into an engaging and fluid set that thrives on experimental noise combating slick, controlling rhythms. Luke Brookes’ stark vocals conducting with unwavering focus.

Brighton’s Cold Pumas prioritise no less on evoking intensity and disquiet – yet in a live setting are a ‘rougher around the edges’ machine that feeds on their tireless structures. They craft a hypnotic formula, one that exercises through not only drummer and vocalist Oliver Fisher but the whole group, a collective symbol of incensed energy in reaction of melancholy that shone brightly here.

As the Exchange descends into complete darkness, the ominous vivacity begins to build as Preoccupations vaunt into ‘Anxiety’, the opening statement of their self-titled record. For the next 50 minutes, the group do not cease – peering deep into each and every soul in the room with sheer cacophony as if with ease and allowance.

On record Matt Flegel battles with a jaded sorrow burrowed into his psyche, yet here he is utterly apoplectic – screaming with exasperation as the group wildly bound around him and huge spotlights around the stage glare. It makes for even more affected listening – the acute loneliness tortured to the point of indignation – Flegel physically shedding himself of such complications through primal exhaustion. As the group descend into a mass cacophony of pure calculated noise that leaves many agape, the impression left is that Preoccupations are one of the most dynamic live bands going.

As speechless attendees leave the venue and the incoming results of the presidential election begin to surface, it feels suitable to look back at their set feeling like something has been learnt. If not of current climates – but of one’s own state of mind and how to deal with such disturbing dissension.

Check out the video for ‘Anxiety’ below.