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Eagulls - The Scala, London 30/10/14

04 November 2014, 17:30 | Written by Dannii Leivers

We’re on the brink of Halloween, but London’s ghouls have come out early. Tomorrow they’ll get to celebrate the holiday’s more tawdry trappings, but tonight they’ve come to celebrate a bill that plumbs the depths of the UK’s darkest, ferocious … and most exciting bands.

Autobahn are up first and play with bug-eyed and strobe-lit vigor. Frontman Craig Jonson’s sequined jacket isn’t fooling anybody – there’s nothing pretty to be found in his band’s knife-sharp, feral psychedelia, the haunting vocals or screaming guitars. Bad Breeding’s sonic assault however, is terrifying enough to scare the trick or treaters. Frontman Chris Dodd spends the first two songs kneeling on the stage his forehead on the floor screaming disturbingly, the rest spitting vitriol in the pit, amid storms of searing feedback. They leave you feeling excavated, sordid and ruined.

Despite having just as fierce a sound, Eagulls restless, squally punkgaze is a bitterer pill to swallow; a dystopian din characterized by misery and the oppression of everyday drudgery. Even dropping balloons onto the heads of the crowd during the effervescent jangle of “Tough Luck” – by far their most uplifting song – feel like a massive middle finger. Not to the system that grinds us all down but to anyone who could have optimism in the face of it –made all the more true by the fact that every balloon has been popped and destroyed by the start of the next track.

With a performance of jaw dropping intensity, the Leeds band thunder violently through songs from their self-titled debut, a record that’s taut and coiled, drawing from The Cure’s anguish, Joy Division’s spiky bleakness and Misfit’s propulsive recklessness. Tonight things sound much messier, mostly as a result of vocalist George Mitchell’s frantic shouts, but that’s no bad thing. Rake thin and clad in black, one hand behind his back, when you can actually make out the lyrics, Mitchell’s yells are pained and desperate. “I can’t see it, can’t feel it, can’t hear it” goes the refrain of “Yellow Visons” while he howls “I never, and never, and never feel fine” on “Soulless Youth”. Not since Robert Smith has a frontman sounded so wonderfully tortured.

Yet the hooks shine through the pulsating, shambolic racket nonetheless. It helps that every track on Eagulls is amazing but tonight it’s mainly due to the gorgeous sounds made by guitarists Mark Goldsworthy and Liam Matthews, driven relentlessly forward by bassist Tom Kelly and drummer Henry Ruddel. They create swirling shoegaze on crowd favourite “Possessed” and nightmarish hallucinations on “Hollow Visions”, which has an edgy bassline rooted in 80s gloom. But it’s the double salvo of “Coffin” and “Moulting”, both from 2012’s EP, that prove how far Eagulls have come from their melodic Buzzcock-esque beginnings. Mitchell leads the bouncing crowd through the sing-a-long chant of “Moulting”’s chorus but the buoyant moment is short-lived. Seconds later “Fester/Blister”, one of their most hostile tracks, is laying waste to everyone’s ears yet the crowd is leaping and singing as though it’s the most life-affirming thing they’ve ever heard. And there lies Eagulls greatest strength. Despite being forged out of disillusion, they’ve managed to leave 1,000 people feeling utterly alive.


Tough Luck
Yellow Eyes
Nerve Endings
Hollow Visions
Soulless Youth

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