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Crystal Antlers, Times New Viking, Dupec @ Sneaky Pete’s, 18 May

Live review for The Skinny

Crystal Antlers

The unifying theme of this gig was always going to be volume – as in, lots of it. But Edinburgh band Dupec (****) refuse to be blown off the stage by their raucous American successors tonight. The trio pour their all into this their most high profile show to date, crashing every cymbal and straining every sinew of songs that are by turns intricately melodic and searingly intense.

After a rather random visual interlude by an American ‘video jockey’, Ohio punks Times New Viking (***) stumble into vision with their shambolic racket, taking some time to hit their stride; their short, sharp opening songs melting into an unwieldy gloop that leaves the audience uncertain where to clap. But this simple guitar-drums-keys trio finally shift into a wilfully discordant gear, and the reticent onlookers gradually become slightly more animate.

No chance of indifference in the face of Crystal Antlers (****). Led by grizzly frontman Jonny Bell, the Californian sextet inject a not unwelcome shot of trippy psychedelica into proceedings. Bolstered by incessant organ and latin percussion, it’s an overwhelming spectacle, but they reign it all in with robust blues riffs on Andrew and A Thousand Eyes. There’s a lasting buzz in our ears, but this was well worth the damage.

Dupec support We Were Promised Jetpacks at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh on 9 June.

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Crystal Stilts @ Sneaky Pete’s, 22 Feb

Gig review for The Skinny

Crystal Stilts @ Sneaky Pete's

Crystal Stilts are all about intensity. And in a space as small as Sneaky Pete’s (imagine your living room, minus furniture, plus 100 indie misfits), the intensity of their music – a murky blend of ’60s psych and ’80s shoegaze – is turned up to eleven. Whereas their acclaimed debut album Alight of Night has moments of clarity and restraint, in live mode the Brooklyn five-piece cram every second of every track full of lumbering bass, stabbing guitar, trippy organ and rushed drumming, while Brad Hargett somehow makes his unintelligible vocals waft and echo around the tiny room. Like The Doors, Joy Division or the Mary Chain, this is the kind of brooding, stormy musical terrain where you don’t so much listen for the chorus (there ain’t one) as feel the electricity in the performance. Although the set is punctuated by jokes about the dry ice machine, Crystal Stilts build the atmosphere ominously, before cracking it asunder with aptly-named set-closer Departure.

Rating: 4/5

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