Old Blue Last, London, February 27
It’s a Wednesday night, but the Old Blue Last is ignoring the midweek lull in an admirable fashion. Meek hipsters mingle with aggro grunge kids, their mutual interests involving nursing overpriced beers and getting really sweaty in the name of hardcore rock’n’roll. It’s quite a sight.
They’re welcomed by Boxed In, a band who merge the sterile, skittering beats of their recent ‘No Joke’ EP with the rich Thom Yorke croon of the frontman (“I believe I haven’t got a clue at all/Wrap me up inside this symphony“), and deliver an incredibly danceable brand of glitch-pop. The legacy of Arthur Russell is everywhere in their music. The grunge kids look mildly disappointed, but everyone else loves it.
Most people here, though, are waiting for Loom. Whether their name refers to the passive-aggressive verb, or the archaic weaving mechanism (I really hope it’s the ill-fitting latter), one thing is for certain: the quartet are REALLY ANGRY about something. What that something is, is slightly ill-defined. The quartet have, in the past, been described as “garage-murder punks”, and frontman Tarik Badwan (that’s Faris Badwan of The Horrors’ little bro) spends most of tonight proving his murderous intentions by catapulting himself around the tiny room in a testosterone-fuelled frenzy. He also boasts a terrifying death stare, which he wheels out whenever his fury
gets too much. The three other members of the band join in intermittently, bouncing off the walls when the songs seem to need it.
During ‘I Get A Taste’, as Tarik bawls “When I see you around/I get a taste of what I’m missing“, most of the crowd huddles around the bar protecting their £5 pints like first-born children. It’s left to a gang of the brave grunge kids (OK, two guys) to make it their business to over-enthusiastically butt heads with Badwan. The scene is made stranger by the rest of the crowd remaining static. It’s a tiny bit awkward, but then seeing someone get really into something when you’re left cold always is. It’s the same wave of second-hand embarrassment and empathy you feel seeing a really rubbish dancer in a club, or seeing someone do really crappy karaoke.
Underappreciated showmanship aside, Loom’s sound employs an early Nirvana template of scuzzy grunge fused with The Stooges. ‘Bleed On Me’ is catchy in a repetitive kind of way. There’s something joyfully adolescent about them, even if it does need refining.