Whilst Underachievers always has a stellar line-up no matter what time of year, it would be fair to say that it’s rare that their gigs receive as much buzz as this. In fact, it’s rare that any show containing four unsigned acts has the locals chattering as much as this, no matter who’s booking and where they’re playing. So, whilst the club night is due to keep the kids dancing until the early hours with leftfield pop, those that turned up early were treated to performances by some of the most exciting bands in the country.
Boy or Bison first caught the attention with a few ramshackle recordings early this year, but in the space of a couple of months they’ve managed to tighten up remarkably, whilst retaining that fuzz-pop ethic that made them so instantly likeable. Slightly awkward and unassuming, they still manage to take control on the makeshift stage with ease, and the audience warm up to their surf-pop soaked melodies as the set goes on – perhaps the most alarming thing is that nobody has committed their chilled out ditties to vinyl yet.
Of course, like any gig accessible by road, rail or air within the last month, Brown Brogues also muscled their way onto the bill, keeping the crowd going with their almost metal take on the blues armed only with two drums, a cymbal and a guitar. Dressed in their signature baseball jerseys, the duo powered through a half hour set, lasting around two songs before urging the ever-expanding crowd forward. Buoyed by being face-to-face with their victims, they promptly show why every promoter in the region is desperate to have them play, and why their ‘A Night of Living Sickness’ tape will likely sell out within the week.
Despite the fresh faces, it’s fair to say there aren’t many others doing what the duo manage to pull off, and even less than manage to achieve it with the consistent excellence they do. Their racket may not be to everyone’s taste – their dark, scuzzy racket is hardly standard fare for Underachievers – but it’s likely that a few more doubters were silenced by this pulse raising set.
And then, the headliners. Mazes have been uncharacteristically quiet of late, but with good reason – as well as having a sell-out 30 track cassette put out by Italian Beach Babes, they’ve had a their own 7” release to orchestrate, put out on the same Suffering Jukebox label that singer Jack helps run. After various shows forcibly cut down to a three piece, they celebrate being back on stage and back to full strength by putting on a storming show.
Distorted and joyfully wonky, the trio give off the impression that they’re stumbling through their set, but do so without ever putting a foot wrong. Even when their equipment fails them – with a faltering bass temporarily halting the set – they carry on regardless, their outrageous potential shining bright throughout, a collection of would-be lo-fi classics played to off-kilter perfection. With any other clubnight, such an spectacular line-up could be considered a one-off – for Underachievers, this kind of brilliance is a bi-monthly occurrence – though they can be forgiven for not always reaching these dizzying heights every time.
*Waiters also played, but sadly, they were missed. They are very good, though.