Shrag - Royal Park Cellars Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Shrag - Royal Park Cellars Leeds

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

There's not much to choose between support bands Downdime and Runaround Kids. Both play driving, riff-happy indie rock in the style of early Ash but without the youthful effervescence, and neither band really deviate from that formula. However, Downdime do at least have a compelling frontman in the form of Ged, who gives great introverted misanthrope, in the classic Kurt Cobain/Neil Young mould. As for Runaround Kids, well, they give it lots of energy and I'm sure they have great personalities.

Neither band comes anywhere close to stealing the limelight from Shrag, the Brighton-via-London five-piece who are up here promoting new album Life! Death! Prizes! From the moment they hit the stage, the band are a bundle of frenetic, loveable energy. Launching into splenetic album opener 'A Certain Violence', two things become immediately apparent: firstly, singer Helen is an absolute star, twirling, lunging forward and dropping to her knees. Her stage presence comes across as completely unaffected. During the course of the set, she repeatedly mentions the fact she hasn't washed for five days and admits to loving dire crusty group The Levellers in her youth (the rest of the band look genuinely horrfied at this). Secondly, as compelling a front-person as she is, this is band full of character. Whoever you focus on, there's a performance worth watching. Synth player and singer Steph has an impeccably cool Debbie Harry/Chrissie Hynde thing going on, guitarist Bob strikes poses with studied aplomb, while bassist Russell bounces up and down like an adorable overgrown puppy.

The set is heavy on the new album (understandably, since the band have been waiting months for it to drop), one exception being the fantastic 'Mark E Smith' from their self-titled debut. Otherwise, we're treated to great new material such as 'Tights in August', 'Courting', the synth-tastic 'Ghosts Before Breakfast' and sweetly affecting 'Their Stats'. Each one sounds like an instant indie-pop classic. The new album's darker moments are also perfectly realised, such as the downbeat 'Habit Creep', on which Helen gets her extended, increasingly desperate monologue spot on.

It's a short but perfectly realised set. Shrag leave us sweaty, wanting more and with a high-pitched whine in our ears. Just the way a great gig should end.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles
Shrag - Royal Park Cellars Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab
Shrag - Fox & Newt
  • 11/02/2012
  • By Rich Morris
Shrag - Royal Park Cellars Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab
Shrag - Canines
  • 07/02/2012
  • By Rich Morris