It’s funny. Going to see The Cribs on Tuesday night felt like a bit of a throwback to 5 years ago; seeing the three brothers from Wakefield doing their thing in Oxford felt like a slight time warp. Either way, I was interested to see how their first UK tour would go since releasing In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull.
Thanks to a bit of a cock-up with public transport, I managed to miss Cheatahs, however, I caught Mazes – yet another alternative band from Manchester. I had high hopes for this lot, as they’ve been renowned for touring with indie bands Wavves, Deerhunter, and Sex is Disgusting, making waves (ha) in the indie-rock scene. The boys had an appealing style, like some sort of British spin on the Kiwi Dunedin sound. It was a safe gig – I would have been happy just to have watched their ‘yeah-we’re-only-supporting,-so-what?’ between-song banter. It was pretty laid-back stuff, a bit shoegaze, a bit lo-fi, and a good contrast to the demented ear-buggery coming up.
The Jarman brothers opened their set with good ol’ crowd pleaser, ‘Come On, Don’t Be a No-one!’ It really got the crowd going, hence the giant moshpit (as in, a few pissed Oxford students shoving each other). I cottoned-on pretty quickly that this was going to be a bit manic. The next few songs were pretty rowdy, the highlight being ‘Mirror Kissers.’ You can’t really fault the crunching guitars and Ryan Jarman’s rasping vocals. The set was energetic to say the least – jackets were off almost straight away. However, my main beef with The Cribs’ performance was that they seemed a bit too slick, a little too used to touring perhaps. There wasn’t much crowd interaction – probably because people kept shouting over the twins whenever they spoke– and any repartee they had between songs was quite stilted.
The gig ended well though, with the majority of people – or perhaps just me – maniacally jumping about like an escaped jack-in-the-box. There was the usual nutty moshing to ‘Men’s Needs’ and after a song request, they finished with the over-the-top and quite batty, ‘Arena Rock Encore.’ However, you would have thought that a band like The Cribs would have a bit more pulling power in persuading people to turn up; the O2 Academy was nowhere near full capacity. It was still fun, loud and dirty, but you couldn’t help the feeling that Oxford wasn’t quite the right place for them to play – perhaps something to do with the unfortunate lack of good old beery northern men. Such a gig would go down a storm a bit further north.