“Get on with it you Scouse fuck,” is, I imagine, not something you expect to hear from an audience who has paid to hear you perform. Nor do I imagine that when Liverpool band SPINN opened their set at the Chameleon Arts Café, they expected to finish with an Oasis cover, (anyway, here’s Wonderwall!) requested and sang by a Nottingham local, with lead singer Jonathon Quinn pitching in on guitar to help him out. Though Jonny’s chatty familiarity with his audience may not be for everyone, it’s clear that SPINN, with their bright guitar-pop sound, don’t take themselves too seriously and are up for a laugh.
“The band finished at their best”
Before regional prejudice came into play later that evening, the night began with a host of Midlands bred bands. Kicking off the set were The Rooves, a five-piece group from Chesterfield playing guitar laden alternative music. It would be brilliant to see The Rooves perform with a confidence fitting their skill: lead singer Charlotte has a mature voice that can keep up with the depth of sound produced by the band. While this was not always the same case with the lead guitar, with lighter riffs sometimes lost behind a thickly layered rhythm section, the band finished at their best with their song ‘Nausea’, where both guitars held their own and created a quirky, intriguing backing for a talented vocalist.
“An excitable band who enjoy dancing to their own tracks as much as anyone else”
Short Weekends, another five-piece band, couldn’t differ more on stage. Cam’ron Murden, lead singer and guitarist, performs with an ants-in-your-pants energy that can’t be ignored. Although a few microphone-fretboard clashes perhaps aren’t totally conducive to a performance, it’s more than forgivable in an excitable band who enjoy dancing to their own tracks as much as anyone else. If I may favourably compare Short Weekends to the Stiff Dylans, the band of ‘Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging’ fame who singlehandedly made the birthday party of Georgia Groome the stuff of legend through their banger of a track ‘Ultraviolet’, then I will – take a listen to the chorus of ‘Going Nowhere’ if you don’t believe me. Although lighter than this 2000s boyband fare, with a layer of synth detracting from any overdone heaviness, the results are comparably fun and lively.
“Their instrumental work was as interesting as their vocals”
The last local band opening before SPINN were Super Furniture. While I sincerely appreciated their cover of the Arthur theme tune – yes, as in that show about the aardvark – their own work is good enough so as not to need the gimmick. What stuck with me about this group was that their instrumental work was as interesting as their vocals: Jonathon Parrish is an excellent guitarist, and it was great to see him finger-tapping intricate riffs on tracks like ‘Discontent’. The band obviously loves to jam out these retro sounding rock instrumentals, but that didn’t detract at all from their vocals. ‘Sleepless’, with a seesawing chorus (How am I to dream?/How am I to sleep?) sung by Herbie Elton-Rowley and some nice harmonising, is an chilled out track, while ‘Vultures’ will appeal to fans of the Arctic Monkeys’s later work.
“You can’t help but laugh along as Jonathon professes his nerves on stage”
However, we are now departing from the Midlands region – first listening to SPINN, I was reminded of The Smiths and The Stone Roses, with guitars lightened and repackaged for the less sulky dreampop. Lead singer and large personality of the group, Jonathon, is far removed from the moody demeanours of such bands; smiling throughout and dancing with jittery enthusiasm, he’s exactly what SPINN’s music is meant for. Their songs are easy stories: from a prod of angst in ‘Notice Me’, (Why won’t you notice me?/Notice me, oh yeah?) to the lovestruck hook of ‘She Takes Her Time’ (With lips like wine/ she’s eloquent in every sense and thought), lyrics are smoothly written to complement a dreamy, indie style of pop music. There is nothing at all pretentious about SPINN, who when seen live, are impossible to see objectively. You can’t help but laugh along as Jonathon professes his nerves on stage, and while some bands asking you to clap along with them would induce nothing but an embarrassed nausea and some resentment, SPINN have the charm and confidence in their music to get away with it.
Images courtesy of Holly Wilson