In a black tinsel hung room that resembles a warped Anti-Claus grotto, Santa is nowhere to be seen. Instead Cold Pumas are going hell for leather with guitars that sound like sticking your head in a washing machine and pressing fast-spin cycle. They have vocals so smothered in everything that it’s impossible to hear any words – this is the sound of the lo-fi garage-punk scene if the garage was built in an echoing cave. “Have we got any bass coming through this?” their lead singer questions pointing to the stage monitors - technicalities are obviously not the bands strong point. Extra plus points for their composed clattering drummer who resembles a fine English gent going for a run, complete with hooped vest, white shorts and a fashionably vintage moustache. Despite the noise, the bands repetitive riffs are infectious, like scratching an itch and enjoying the moment. It’s no surprise that by the time they finish the audience resembles a nodding dog.
Breaking More Waves recently blogged Idiot Glee (pictured) also has a back to basics approach, but his sound is more mannered - reverb washed monastic vocals, Bontempi-esque down tempo beats and end of the pier cabaret organ sounds combine to make something that grows into something quite tender and sadly soulful. His keyboard stand is an old circular wooden table with a broken shelf on top of it, completing the D-I-Y aesthetic. As he plays it becomes apparent that for such a young man there’s little energy on stage, his personality seeming to reflect his maudlin songs. Looped and layered vocals wrap around each other as his plodding slow burning set gently simmers. A cover version of Bill Withers Ain’t No Sunshine is the highlight – a hymn of slow burning beautiful dreariness that almost morphs into a dub jam by the end.
By the time Canada’s Women (who also joined Idiot Glee for one song) arrive on stage the place is a sweatbox. If Santa was here he would have stripped down to his jingle bell undies and given out deodorants as presents. Women complete the lo-fi threesome, their multi-vocal twitchy jams being robust, propulsive, unmelodic and somewhat angular. Guitar parts nestle up and rub each other off, but there is never any climax. A word that is used a lot to describe Women a lot is drone, and it’s the drone and lack of real tunes that ensures their set is ultimately a test of endurance in the heat. Like Cold Pumas, Women are another itch – but this one isn’t as enjoyable.