After we had a chat with post-punkers Eagulls, we went to check out their live show at one of Nottingham’s more intimate, but ridiculously packed, venues.
With Eagulls’s well-known non-conforming attitude it almost seems wrong to say they have the “look”, but they very much do, right from the trench coat frontman George Mitchell sports for the cooler half of the gig to the general “we’re here and we’ll put on a fucking good show, deal with it or fuck off” attitude that their set oozes. This subtly arrogant manner injects a confidence that leads the show and I’m sure many would say helps define their act, “I couldn’t care less but you could, which is why you’re here” all but projected across them.
In fact, what’s projected across them is a dim flickering image, giving some illusion to a real-life music video or an 80s punk band, and adding a memorable touch to what rapidly develops into an almost samey set. Whilst there is something in the show that could almost be described as iconic, it’s novelty seems to wear off fast and becomes the sort of performance you could easily lose yourself in the moment of among the disorientating sound and lighting effects; it’s the kind of show that twenty or thirty years ago would have been able to define a generation.
A percussion driven opening gives way to crystal clear, studio quality vocals and a generally tight welcome, one the crowd seemed surprisingly quiet in reply to. This clarity soon descends into a slurred and blurred haze, psychedelic hints creeping into the sound through echoes and distortion, taking another step further away from the clean sound with a long feedback solo to wind up the second song of the night. A couple of bass-lead tracks lose the vocals entirely, but in turn build up a sense of room-shaking power and highlight their talent for lengthy closes.
Another trait the band liked to show a knack for came in the form of extensive, manic instrumentals that the crowd soaked up in pits and enthusiasm, their unapologetic confidence riding them through and climactic choruses uniting the audience in their madness. Regardless of the ferocity on the floor, on stage began to feel like a band that used to be all-out punk and grew complacent with age, doing whatever they wanted but purely for the sake of it; it might be a given with the post-punk genre, but for all their controversy and opinions, I expected more energy.
As the set developed into a more psychedelic territory with a grunge/punk infusion blended in, there were increasing flecks of what I’d hoped for the show to be about – powerful build ups before the song kicks off, pace changes mid-track and more eccentric solos all adding something more to the show, all the while remaining close to the clear cut studio quality that commenced the show.
While the performance was unavoidably not what I was expecting from the night, it would be wrong to say I was let down by it; albeit withheld, the fire in the set was still clear, and it was a show unlike any I’ve seen before, or thought still existed.