The Cast Of Cheers, Danimal Kingdom, Squarehead & INTV, Old Blue Last, 31 March 2011

Tonight appears to be dedicated to proving, once and for all, that guitar music is back.

INTV are heavy. Their music is a solid wall of sound, but it’s made up of interesting riffs, quirky little guitar licks and mercifully restrained solos.

Grass Is Greener sounds close to Beetlebum-era Blur, and has strong hints of Radiohead. The influences are obvious, but it’s not the worst thing. Lead singer, Nick Rowson’s, laidback yet melodic tone complements the style nicely, and distinct chord shifts give it movement and breathing space.

The Shove is more original. It comes in with kick-ass fast drum beats as Rowson murmurs lyrics, gradually bringing more feeling and melody into his voice. The frantic chorus, with its racing guitars and jangling symbols, means the band can’t keep still any longer. It breaks down quietly, but is itching to get louder. And then it descends into a chaotic explosion of noise, before stopping dead.

Representing Ireland’s seemingly bursting-at-the-seams music scene are Squarehead. They play punchy, bassy, punky tracks that sustain a volume so high their music positively rings in your ears.

They perform with the vigour of a teenage garage band, and are reminiscent of Weezer – but with definite undertones of pop.

As a result they mangle gritty guitar and bass lines with backing vocals made up of ‘ooh’s. This is what heavy pop really means. And it’s won Squarehead a full room of appreciators.

Danimal Kingdom are at the more absurd end of the spectrum. They begin with faint fairground-style organs before bringing in funny-sounding guitars, whacking drum beats and vocals that jump erratically up and down the scale.

They perform as if they’re completely wasted – body parts all over the place and big grins on their faces – but they’re drinking only water.

Danimal Kingdom don’t take any of it too seriously. They’re all about popping rhythms and random leaps from chord to chord. They have a carefree and childlike sense of fun that is spellbinding, but the audience aren’t totally convinced. A few fans absolutely adore them – cheering and clapping as loud as they can – but others stand silent and bemused.

Their crazy style makes this band entertaining to watch, but in reality it’s a little bit too off the wall to take seriously. But then serious isn’t exactly what they’re going for.

Soon enough Danimal Kingdom’s enthusiasm is completely blown out the water by The Cast Of Cheers. This band are like a mixture of Foals and Pulled Apart By Horses, on steroids.

Dramatic drums punch in like a call to arms, cuing the music to go mad and the band to have, what look like, stood-up epileptic fits. They play faster than anyone since that awful Dragonforce video in 2006, but this time, it sounds amazing.

This music talks to itself. The guitars sound like robots having a conversation, and the alternating vocalists shout out choppy lyrics that only add to the pace.

The gig goes on like a PE lesson bleep test: relentlessly increasing in speed. But The Cast Of Cheers keep up, raising the bpm with every song to push their super-fast dancing skills to the limit. Lead singer, Conor, punches the air and yells even when he doesn’t have lines to sing.

Catching a breath between songs he has a moment to reveal that this is the band’s first London show. He is very humble, thanking the now packed-in audience for sticking around to hear them. But everyone here is already loving it – London is absolutely chuffed to have them.

He also gives away his Irish accent – putting The Cast Of Cheers in the ever-expanding club of fantastic new Irish bands. Ireland’s economy might be going down the drain, but its music scene is on fire.


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