Hot Cops with support from Oh Boland & Brand New Friend
Studio 11 – Saturday 13th August 2016
On the third-floor room of a College Court warehouse Hot Cops, Oh Boland and Brand New Friend play an intimate gig for the single release of Hot Cops’ ‘Dumbbo’. The small venue gives the evening a practice room energy and authenticity, think Love Will Tear Us Apart with a single lampshade to write by. We sit beside the sound guy, eye-to-eye with the performers.
Rubber hits road with Brand New Friend, fresh from the main stage at Stendhal Festival earlier in the day with no less of the same energized, comfortable and confident musicianship that put them there. Regardless of a main stage performance or an intimate small venue support slot, Brand New Friend give nothing less than their very best. Endearing, electrically-charged indie pop which transforms Studio 11 from a room into a venue as the crowd is drawn in. Lead Taylor Johnson addresses the room, the whole of Belfast, as a party before pushing off into their power-pop set. A seamless guitar-swap following ‘Your Friends Hate Me’ gives drummer Fionn and bassist Darren the chance to jam 12-bar blues into ‘I Love You, Goodbye’ from debut EP American Wives, where keys-player Lauren’s voice takes the lead. When asked what colours the band’s uniquely youthful, driven sound Taylor replied “Love,” and that, for Taylor at least, “love-pop” gives the band its signature zeal.
Brand New Friend’s post-Stendhal enthusiasm gives way for Oh Boland, Hot Cops’ support for the single release tour. The Tuam three-piece blend a heady cocktail of noise-pop and garage-rock, calling to mind acts like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall. As the venue’s single lampshade is switched off, sparse faery lights bring out the band against bare studio walls. Oh Boland craft a set out of upbeat dissonance, a punk-meets-psych sound that, even if we can’t agree genre, commands movement from the crowd. Despite a stand-in bassist for the evening Oh Boland run through a seamless performance, underscoring the strong musicianship that sees the band’s debut album ‘Spilt Milk’ released later this year through Californian label Volar Records. After a short interval, Hot Cops take to the front.
Hot Cops’ set is blown open with previous single ‘Passive Passive’, a cavalcade of rolling percussion and swelling basslines lead by Carl Eccles’ anaesthetized vocal delivery into ‘Fallout’. The #1 Babes track narrates something of a suburban apocalypse, riding through on Nathan’s muscular, superfuzzed bassline and bringing movement into the crowd. And of course ‘Dumbbo’ makes his debut, the three-piece’s reassertion of their searing musicianship in a poetic dissection of the title character. The single works itself from an ominous lullaby introduced by Carl’s gossamer behind-the-nut plucking into an all-flattening grunge breakdown.
The band tease new track ‘Shiver’ with an upbeat dissonance, and then elevator-muzak styled ‘Art of The Act’ brings the set to a close before the crowd make their demand, “Six, Six, Six.” The three-piece happily oblige. ‘Six’ builds nervous rhythms and murmured vocals into an unflinching breakdown, with Carl’s howling delivery of the hook “Oh baby, twenty feet tall” balancing against Nathan’s confident vocal accompaniment before a sedated bassline brings the evening to its end.
Teased for us on a screen behind the performers during their line-checks was a video for a certain Hot Cops single we can look forward to in September that is guaranteed to, no spoilers here, ‘pull your heart straight through your skull’.