NME Generation Next Tour @ The Old Fire Station, Bournemouth, Friday, October 19
“Hi,” says the first man/boy to take the stage, “I’m Justin Bieber.” WHAT!?! Has the booker of the Generation Next tour lost their mind? One of the world’s biggest teen-pop superstars is first on, on a boundary-shattering NME tour? And what the hell’s happened to Bieber anyway, with his backwards baseball cap and new direction as an even-more-drugged-up Girls, trilling his MGMT falsettos and singing, “I stand there with a loaded gun/I shoot down everyone”?
Thirteen microseconds later, we realise with relief it’s actually Brighton’s Sam McGarrigle of Gross Magic having a laugh, opening NME’s new bands tour in entrancing fashion, with his Pavement awkwardness, Pixies demonics and songs called ‘Telegram Tim’ that resemble T Rex’s ‘Telegram Sam’ being bludgeoned in an alleyway with a Buddy Holly box-set. There’s definitely some sort of foul (but brilliant) sorcery at work here.
“NOOOORRRMMM!” literally no-one shouts in reference to legendary sitcom Cheers as Dublin’s The Cast Of Cheers take to the stage, but within half an hour we’re all memorising their name. For they are the future of mathsy jolt-pop, taking the edgy allure of Foals and The Maccabees and adding Alt-J’s space and tension, bursts of electro noise like Nintendo warfare and the modernist energy of Fixers battling, um, Battles. At one point mainman Conor Adams produces a noise that should only be possible if he’d melted down the Tardis to make his guitar.
And here come Howler from Minneapolis, an uncontrolled surf-garage riot, like Weezer gone wicked. They try to buy drugs off the audience; they dish out Jim Beam like bouncers giving water to the front row – “It’s the audience’s whiskey now!” guitarist Ian Nygaard bellows as the rider flies into the crowd – and they introduce a new song, ‘Ipecac’, about a drug that makes you puke, inspired by singer Jordan Gatesmith’s fantasy about a flashmob vomiting in unison when listening to Black Eyed Peas songs. They’re everything rock’n’roll should be and more – MBV ambiguousness, Raveonettes rattle, Lynchian lost-highway mystique and, in the pandemonium-sparking frenzies of ‘This One’s Different’ and ‘Back Of Your Neck’, sheer ’50s fun and fire. It’s gruesome, it’s grotesque, but it’s gargantuan. Everything Bieber wishes he was.