A band have to be pretty sure of their sonic prowess to face their audience with permascowls and hostility, but Loom have more swagger than a gathering of Gallagher brothers and certainly don’t lack for electrifying tautness and brute force. Blasting out angry grunge-punk of the weightiest order, their breezeblock miserablism is powered by a pounding rhythm section, two vigorous guitarists and a compelling frontman, Tarik Badwan, who, when not channeling a blend of Peter Murphy and Kurt Cobain, stands glowering and provocative. Who to provoke tonight, though, among the Finsbury’s typically diverse crowd, seemed to throw the band a little. Badwan’s forward surges were dramatic, but once at crowd-level it seemed there was nothing for it but to clamber back on stage. His coiled aggression was a fascinating watch, though, and the rest of the band offered a committed visual backdrop. Loom’s volcanically stroppy stance can’t detract from the fact that they are a band whose driving hardcore incorporates catchy refrain after catchy riff; a five-piece who, at their best nail the kind of pop-aware punk at which Nirvana excelled. ‘I Get A Taste’ was thrillingly spartan rock’n’roll, like a supersize Velvet Underground, while closing number and current single ‘Lice’ was another piledriver, Badwan repeatedly bawling “Get Out of My Head” before falling prostrate and exhausted on stage as the feedback faded around him. Heavyweight knockout indeed.
The evening had commenced with another eye-catching and uncompromising act, although Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux were on more of a psychobilly tip, playing fuzzy rock’n’roll with bombastic gothic vocals. The drummer and bowler-hatted bassist were done out in Joker-style make-up (the latter’s psycho-scarecrow look genuinely creepy), giving further indications of their schlocky horror bent. Their skittery rhythm and blues was reminiscent of The Cramps, sharing a slack and skeletal sound, although this nocturnal vaudeville act took a different turn during penultimate number ‘Master John’, when some glistening slide guitar came on like The Gun Club may have if they’d gone emo, giving Eighteen Nightmares their most distinctive song of the night.
In-between this heavy, heavy monster pairing were Haus, a youthful post-millennium-indie outfit, all polite melodies, spry dialect, contrapuntal chops, rimshots and tom rolls. Three guitarists seemed a touch OTT, given the marginal disparities in each one’s playing, but this is a style that relies on such subtle distinctions and, anyway, the six members look as much a set of mates as a band (presumably they’ll be ribbing the bassist about his 1980s denim jacket, collar-popped) and that’s enough reason to cement the line-up in itself. Theirs is an increasingly overcrowded genre, however, one in which Foals are probably as surprised as anyone to be the defining act, and, to rise above the herd, Haus may need to produce more of the heightened dynamics of their final two tunes, ‘Token’( I think) and ‘February’, which were quicker, bouncier and less regimented than those preceding. The band seemed to be more relaxed and fluid during these closing tracks and the crowd, which was at its most densely populated when these boys were on stage, responded in suitably animated fashion.
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Photos & Film by Chris Musicborn @musicborn @lostinthemanor