First up was King Of Cats. I’d seen them once before at Oxford’s Gathering festival, which incidentally was really fucking good, so go to the next one, yeah?
Lead singer and guitarist Max has a very distinct vocal style, and the band sort of shamble between noisy, grungy loudness and quieter folky bits. If the Earl of Lemongrab fronted a fuzz-folk outfit, they’d tour with King of Cats. This time their set wasn’t as good. I think it’s because they didn’t really get into it (they seemed as surprised as the audience was when each song ended)! They did, however, go all out for the last song, where Max threw down his guitar and stood screeching into the microphone. As a result, it stood out as one of the best songs of their set. Then an ageing punk-rocker stepped onto the stage, threw up, set his sick on fire using some lighter fluid and starting kicking it at the crowd. Awesome.
I wasn’t so sure about Beta Blocker And The Body Clock. I’d only heard their stuff online and wasn’t super into it. Visually, they’re rocking some pretty heavy Dinosaur Jr vibes: lead singer with J Mascis hair and a baseball cap, and a shy-looking bassist with Lou Barlow hair. The drummer wasn’t bald or nearly as goofy looking as Murph though. Anyway, it turns out they’re really good live: lots of melodic guitar playing, heavy chordal bass and tight tight tight drumming. The only thing I didn’t really enjoy were the reverby vocals. They worked in places, but elsewhere it would have been nice to have some clean, dry voices. If you can’t sing, just go with it. I’m not a fan of the shelter-in-a-wash-of-reverb-to-cover-up-weak-vocals school of rock. It sounds muddy and kind of lame.
As for Secret Rivals, I did not dig them. I quite liked the noisy and messy guitar style, but I generally wasn’t a fan of their sound. A mixed night overall.