2nd October | Exchange
There are several shows a year that force me to take a step back and appreciate just how lucky we are to live amongst such vibrant art scenes within this city. The vein of creative expression seems ever-present within the musicians and artists that populate our venues and thankfully that doesn’t go unnoticed. Tonight’s efforts are no different and with a healthy addition of some Scottish indie bile, this evening looks set to reaffirm my belief in the sounds of our city.
It’s hard to find a stage that comfortably houses the many members of Hamburger but that’s okay; their cute brand of wholesome indie-pop lends itself perfectly to this close-quarters set-up. The organic and breathy tones of the band’s four-piece vocal compositions create an air of introspective positivity that blends effortlessly with their delicate and, at times, haunting progressions. The band successfully channel a very human sense of realism in both their lyrics and stage presence, with their sweet tales of breakfast food rivalries being an apt example of their approachable demeanour. Often tracks will build indefinitely, like a never-ending staircase, allowing their impressively hooky motifs and phrases to root their way deep into your memory.
The newly formed Sun Tzu offer a glimpse upon the other side of the coin. From the outset, their hectic and powerful noise-rock progressions roar through the back wall of the venue, unapologetically and with the weight of an anvil. There is a visceral and aggressive twitch to their vocalist’s venomous delivery and a deeply cathartic tone to his melodic outbursts that are amplified exponentially by guitarist Joe Groves’ guttural riffs. At times, he seems to channel The Bends-era Johnny Greenwood with his contorted, unpredictable movements. The band’s use of two-chord progressions allows space for drastic emotive builds that crash into schizophrenic flourishes of sound with a rolling energy that captivates the room.
Savage Mansion might not possess the same raw power as Sun Tzu, but they do offer a pleasantly frayed flavour of indie noise. Their loping rhythm section provides a solid structure to build stimulating passages of spiny guitar that pierce like needles amongst vocalist Craig Angus’ confident diction. Savage Mansion seem more suited to large, open chords and an almost arena-rock ethos, with their controlling stage presence operating like an instruction manual for a professional outfit. There is an element of California alt-rock hiding amongst some of the band’s cuts, most notably a splash of SWMRS and even a hint of the QOTSA off-shoot, Mini Mansions.
Savage Mansion really shine with their laconic yet large choruses, which lend themselves massively to the roar of a chanting audience. It seems Angus’ penchant for captivating diction is the core of this outfit’s operations, unsurprisingly given the project’s beginnings as his own personal creative vehicle. This clear direction and writing method can occasionally lead to some degree of repetition throughout the band’s catalogue, though the unapologetic positivity within the band’s most melodic cuts more than makes up for a lack of surprise.
See the video for ‘Situation Comedy’ here: