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Big Ups + Blacklisters + Super Luxury LIVE at Nation

Nation of Shopkeeper’s weekly free Wednesday gig hasn’t been grabbing my attention as much of late, with a lot of similar-sounding electronica bands gracing the boards of the stage. This week’s seems an attempt at providing a cure to that formula, and the cure is distorted loud discordant rock music.

We at Shlur are no strangers to how awesome Super Luxury are live, having caught them at Quidrophenia last year and then having the pleasure of hanging out soon after. We knew what to expect: massive guitar riffs, gut busting bass, tribal drumming and the always entertaining onstage antics of singer Adam Nodwell including his traditional firing of a confetti gun when you least expect it. After walking out to the theme from Quantum Leap, what immediately blew us away this time was how damn tight they were. And in spite of this how they still managed to completely rock out and lose themselves in it. Nodwell covered every inch, and I mean every inch, of the venue, scaling the PA and shimmying around the curtain rails; Hamish pounded the kit with reckless literally bass pedal-busting abandon; Tom and Chris never stood still for more than a second before throwing themselves into their playing again. ‘Kellogg’s Wasps‘ was as headbangingly ace as ever, making me grin from ear to ear as soon as I recognised the opening drums. New songs showed a move towards a more dronerock sludge sounds at times, with bending sustained chords and repetitive basslines, but never lost the fun that defines them. Even the aforementioned bust bass pedal needing a swift replacement midsong in closer ‘Mystery Thriller Teen Drama’ couldn’t detract from how great these guys are live, if anything it just added to the unrestrained madness of their shows. With more gigs to come in the near future and an album in the works, keep your earholes peeled back for more from these chaps soon.

Blacklisters are doing pretty good at the moment. Reading and Leeds festivals, live sessions for the Radio 1 rock show and a full length titled, “BLKLSTRS.” They took to the stage at Nation and picked up where Super Luxury left off. The booking could not have been better for this night, all the bands complimented each other. Frontman Billy captivated the audience throughout, looking like he had arrived from a day of hanging out in front of a Sainsburys Local, suitably merry from a few tinnies, his aggressive shoutings reminiscent of Commited, backed by powerful drums, thundering and extremely punchy bass and the sort of melodically correct but sporadic guitar that completes such an ensemble.

After performances like these, being the headliner can be a tough act. Not so for increasingly hyped hardcore kids Big Ups. With the fire-filled eyes of Henry Rollins and the shouty voice of a lispless angry Isaac Brock, lead singer XX was magnetic. I’ve never seen someone seem so ready to burst out of their own skin with kinetic energy, wriggling and writhing in and out of his shirt and half-yelling, half-rapid fire talking his simple but heartfelt lyrics. Several shades of Fugazi come through strongest musically, with their penchant for fiddly then minimal melodies and slinky basslines exploding into propulsive angry outbursts of noise and squall. Their songs aren’t just all one note one speed either, varying nicely from the warped droning of opener ‘Body Parts’ and the dread-filled bassline of ‘Tmi’, to the more contemplative ‘Justice’ and melancholic ‘Wool’. They aren’t just fast and angry all the time, they have a real good feel for how dynamics can give more emphasis and weight to when they go nuts rather than just being at full speed all the time. And they shift in speed at the drop of a pin, punching you sonically in the face and leaving you reeling in time to their rapid beats. Their album captures all this energy pretty damn well, but if you like the album then seeing them live is mandatory. They are that fucking good.