NME Awards Tour 2011 - O2 Academy Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

NME Awards Tour 2011 - O2 Academy Leeds

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Everything Everything are so 2011 UK indie, from the choppy guitar riffs to the keyboard sound which is just the right side of 80s bland to the funky-angsty rhythms, that they already sound a little past their sell-by date in February. Their cause is not helped by a frontman who likes to sing in falsetto but sounds less like Prince and more like Russell Tovey turning into a werewolf. It's not so much that they're unoriginal, there's clearly some imagination and inventiveness happening in their music but it seems a little forced and thus is more irksome than involving. Still, a large portion of the crowd seem to be into what they're doing so maybe the future will be bright for Everything Everything.

The dreadlocked geezer who strides out at the start of Magnetic Man's set and begins barking 'Make some noise!' style clichés at the crowd raises fears in Soundblab's chest that this is going to be some woeful attempt to transfer the unique 'vibe' of your average dubstep night to a large gig venue. Thankfully, this is far from the case. Mr Shouty (probably not the name he goes under but who knows) is necessary because Magnetic chaps Benga, Skream and Artwork make no attempts to engage with the crowd, remaining all but invisible behind their laptops, busy unleashing hydrogen bomb explosions of noise. The sound truly is incredible, as is the light show that goes with it. Set highlights such as 'Perfect Stranger' and 'I Need Air' are felt as much as heard, the sonic vibrations whipping through your chest, stomach and legs. Having exterminated our eardrums in the best possible way, Magnetic Man vacate the stage quietly, leaving us in little doubt that they are the future of music.

How do you follow that? Well, if your Crystal Castles, you slouch on and make the tinniest music known to man. CC can't compete with MM. Their sound is too thin and contains very little variation. Basically, they only have one tune and it's not even really a tune. Any subtly they possess on record is sandpapered away tonight. After a few songs, it almost feels like dancing to some bad trance coming out of a mobile phone speaker. Alice Glass is on crutches, but this doesn't stop her from writhing about, looking spooked and messed up in that Winona-Ryder-in-90s-indie-flick way.

Despite Crystal Castles' goth-dance sound and Glass' punk girl icon status, the crowd is almost entirely male with not a sensitive, black-clad boy in sight. Instead, it's all beered-up lads jumping on top of each other, releasing all that testosterone in the most acceptably homo-erotic way possible. There's actually something quite disturbing about watching a fragile-looking, injured woman writhe on stage while beneath her young women attempt to force their way out of a crushing scrum of sweaty, howling lads. Add to this a set heavy on their disappointing second album, and you have something more like an endurance test from Spartacus: Blood and Sand than a gig. Crystal Castles leave the crowd braying impotently for older songs, while Soundblab is just glad to get outside and get some air, away from something which felt a bit... ugly.

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