Saturday, 14 September 2013

Live Review: SKATERS (BidoLito!)


The Shipping Forecast - Liverpool
27th August 2013

It’s hot down here. Really hot. I tried to wear a jumper because I thought it would make me look young but now I’m sweating so furiously that it could just as easily be my tears. Elvis Presley would feel self-conscious down here tonight though, as three lads who’ve probably spent the afternoon play-fighting in the Urban Outfitters fitting rooms otherwise referring to themselves as SKATERS, trudge onto a cramped stage in The Shipping Forecast’s ‘Hold’.  

Hailing from New York (of course), this trio has tentatively ebbed their way onto the blogosphere with a handful of punchy singles. A Barney Sumner guitar rift confidently introduces the excellent I Wanna Dance [But I Don’t Know How], which proves to be less ironic than you’d imagine until they eventually manage a synchronized head bob between them. It’s a song that revels in its simplicity, stripping away any complexities and aiming straight for those primal instincts you spend your whole life trying to fight off. It isn’t a regression though; these songs are just finding beauty in different places, like the explosive change in energy between it’s verse and chorus, or the hypnotizing, rumbling drone of b-side single Armed. There certainly isn’t anything original about the conventional hooks and recognisable melodies on show tonight. But down here in The Hold they are dispensed with Rubin’s self-reliant indifference and conversational delivery, making them instantly approachable and capable of turning a cynical introvert like me into a skanking, twerking fanboy. The Brazen, angsty Schemers is their most complete song to date, and tonight it fills the room nicely as Noah Rubin yells ‘I’ve got to let you know’ with Strummer-like force that threatens to resemble defiance. There is a palpable energy among this snugly filled venue, and the affable personality of their stage manor and music they are playing runs a thread through every song, creating a performance that runs with a structure and coherency far beyond their years. And despite that inexperience, this doesn’t feel like we are stepping in on a band practice in their garage (regardless of the venue looks like). They have honed in on how they want to present themselves and how they want to present these songs. And even more impressively, they sound tight as fuck.

This performance certainly seems to serve some sort of cathartic purpose for these guys, as their lack of self-awareness proves to be surprisingly believable. Whether Skaters are capable of translating these buzz-friendly singles into an album that’s well stocked with instantly gratifying pop songs is a more complicated question. Tonight though, it probably feels like it did when The Strokes performed at Spiral in 2001, as this trio of cooler-than-cool New Yorkers play with the knowledge that their music holds no inherent meaning, which is exactly why it means so much. 

Mike Townsend

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