The first warm-up act for Midding’s early June Cardiff show, Zac White openly admits he’s battling assorted demons tonight: mid-song memory lapses, the decision not to write a setlist, vocal cords strained by pre-show chainsmoking, a pedal board that requires a regular booting just to work. With no backing band, the Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard guitarist apologetically announces that he’s restricted to “the slow, boring ones”. But when those include Spent On You and, better still, Waltz #3 – slacker-fuzz songs of the sort that Ty Segall composes for fun – no one’s complaining.
Slate – second to Midding on the bill – only played their first gig barely three weeks ago, which makes their opening gambit – a self-assured, bass-driven beast that builds to a very satisfying climax – all the more impressive. Thereon in, the quartet give a slightly too textbook demonstration of Fontaines DC’s pervasive influence, but there are nevertheless encouraging signs – not least the guitarist’s maverick style, which could be further indulged.
“Clwb Fuzz are dead – long live Midding!” grins Joe Woodward, the guitarist clearly relishing the opportunity to celebrate his band’s rebranding in the company of a lively Friday night crowd in Cardiff. One attendee later pushes being partisan to the limits, getting too up close and personal with bassist Emily Kocan before being ejected, but generally, the boisterousness is good-natured.
At times, Kocan’s vocals cut serenely through the murky fug of guitars like My Bloody Valentine’s Bilinda Butcher (in a way that newish member Cam Wheeler’s synths rarely do, sadly); at others, there’s a ragged rawness and serrated edge to their alt-rock. No Heaven has the cocksure leather-jacket-and-shades swagger of Black Angels, and it’s hard not to hear the mantra of GOD (Let You Lose) – “They’ve got something better for you” – as anything other than a promise of much more to come.
Porter’s, Cardiff, Fri 10 June
words BEN WOOLHEAD
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