Castiel, Supercasino, The August September & [ME], Barfly, 14 July 2011

Australian band [ME] are the openers tonight. It’s their first performance in the UK and now the band is recording its debut album here. So there are four lads onstage – ties, tight trousers and the high heel shoes (apart from the bass player, who performs barefoot).

Their sound is astonishing neo-rock: droning bass, melancholic piano and falsetto which would make Matt Bellamy jealous. The frontman’s vocal abilities make the whole sound something special. He entertains the audience with the trick of removing the microphone further from the mouth and while the power of the voice remains the same. The forty minute gig climaxes when the bassist gives his instrument to the frontman, picks up the drumsticks and hits the floor tom along with the drummer. The audience goes mad.

After the opener’s performance the drum kit gets covered with a cloth because lo-fi duo The August September don’t need it at all. There are only two people onstage – the guitar player and the female vocalist.

However, equipment and stage decorations compensate for the shortage of band members, along with an old tape recorder which replays noises. Most of the sounds have been recorded in advance.

The August September’s sound is dirty overdriven guitar meets minimalistic electronic bits. Sounds interesting but there’s a certain feeling that we’re listening to some unreleased records from The Kills.

“Hi, Camden! How are you doing?” asks Colin Finlay, frontman of Supercasino. But nobody responds. By the time the band gets up on stage there’s hardly anyone left in the hall. However the guys play like it’s the most important show of their lives. Supercasino’s poppy punk is refreshing and uplifting. The guitar player raps, which might sound unusual, but it turns out to be very funny. The band’s sense of humour definitely makes the performance.

And now it’s time for a headliner – five young men from Canterbury. Barfly’s webpage says that “newly formed Castiel will break barriers of what you’ve heard before and will astound at live performances”.

Well, maybe, but there’s still hardly anyone here. So like their predecessors Castiel have to play in a front of an almost empty venue. But the band doesn’t seem to care. Joyful and barefooted, the frontman jumps around the stage and spits his lines.

Castiel play melodic, radio-friendly pop rock which sometimes turns into a growling wall of noise. They’re not bad at all for their first big show.

Dmitry Serostanov

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