Live Review: Loom / Bloody Knees / Polterghost, Black Heart, Camden (04/09/13)


Embarking on a four date residency at Camden’s Black Heart, Loom and friends treat a small, yet lively crowd, on this, the first night.

Camden’s Black Heart is primarily a pub, with a gig venue located upstairs. A fantastic selection of beers combined with a gothic decor seems the perfect location for three of the capital’s best grunge / punk bands to play. What unfolds over the night is complete and utter carnage.

On first are Polterghost. We caught this trio’s first ever gig around a month ago, and since then, they’ve been surrounded by an ever growing wave of hype. Tonight’s performance is most definitely deserving of this attention, as the threesome blast through a set of slacker-inspired grunge and classic rock riffs. Forthcoming single, ‘Beast’, stands out, as does the insanely catchy ‘Holy Smoke’. Polterghost will do well.

Polterghost are swiftly followed by Bloody Knees, a gothic punk band whose influences range from American pop-punk to the gothic punk of The Damned. For a first viewing, they’re very good, just not quite as striking as I had expected after having heard the sublime ‘Dead’. The guitars seem to clash without complimenting each other, and the vocals are too loud and certainly not crisp enough. That being said, however, there is plenty of potential here and Bloody Knees will get better and better.

Eventually, Loom arrive on stage with Tarik Badwan swaggering on after the rest of the band, as has become his trademark. The five-piece launch into an ear-splitting set of heavy grunge and punk. Whereas Bloody Knees’ two guitars had failed to ignite, Loom’s riffs reverberate around the small room. The rhythm section is as tight and as noisy as ever and, of course, Tarik’s vocals and stage performance are mesmerising.

The haunting ‘Bleed On Me’ is a particular set highlight, as is the more wistful ‘I Get A Taste’. We’re even treated to a special cover of Warsaw’s ‘Warsaw’, which, I would imagine, is just how Curtis and co. would have imagined it; loud, raw and aggressive. Musically, there aren’t many better than Loom at what they do.

However, there is a slightly sour note to their performance. Yes, Tarik commands the stage, climbing on the monitors and often jumping down into the crowd. However, at times, I cannot help but feel that it is all a bit needless. During his spells in the crowd, he wrestles people to the floor and incites other crowd members to fight between themselves. As fun as that sounds, it all detracts from what should actually be one of the best bands around at the moment.

It was a great night of music on the heavier side of the spectrum. Polterghost and Bloody Knees have all the potential in the world, but it is Loom who are leading the way right now. A special mention to The Black Heart too, whose sound quality was sensational throughout, even if my eardrums took a fair battering.

Alex Neely

…Alex is listening to Arctic Monkeys – AM


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