SHOPPING / GAUCHE / LAWNDALE HIGH | LIVE REVIEW
Gwdihw, Cardiff, Thu 9 Nov
For a gig that sees promoters All My Friends and Joy Collective teaming up together, it’s fitting that all three bands on the bill are collaborative ventures. First up are Lawndale High, formed from members of local outfits Pink Grapefruit, The Bellamys and Deadlines. There’s a slacker vibe to their fuzzy indiepop that means it comes as little surprise when the vocalist repeatedly claims during one song “I spent all day in bed”. The second track threatens to come unstitched at the seams, but the salvage operation is successful. Even with more time, practice and gigs under their belt, though, a band like this are never going to be what you could call “the finished article” – and neither would we want them to be.
Gauche, meanwhile, feature vocalist/bassist Mary Jane Regalado and vocalist/drummer Daniele Yandel of Downtown Boys and Priests respectively, two of Pitchfork’s buzziest bands du jour. Together with a guitarist and a synth player, they make resolutely lo-fi punk-funk that draws on the likes of Talking Heads, ESG, Le Tigre, Blonde Redhead, Bush Tetras and local legends Young Marble Giants.
On their first trip to Wales, Yandel has been enjoying the road signs (“You guys really like consonants”), but Regalado can be forgiven for feeling slightly less cheery, having recently injured her back falling off the stage and subsequently developing a stomach ulcer from ibuprofen consumption. “But hey, I’m happy to be here”, she smiles. For a band who call Washington DC home, it’s refreshing to note that not a single invocation of Donald Trump’s name soils the atmosphere – but the musical simplicity and chants/yelps that feel fresh for Pay Day have become a bit wearing by the time they conclude with Rectangle.
Having performed here three times already this year, Shopping’s Rachel Aggs is now practically an honorary Cardiffian. Those previous visits were with Sacred Paws, though – winners of the Scottish Album Of The Year award for Strike A Match. She’s a member of so many bands that she could pretty much play in the city with a different one every night for a month.
Aggs’ contribution to Sacred Paws, as a two-piece, is inevitably more integral than to Shopping, whose songs are primarily constructed around Andrew Milk’s drums and Billy Easter’s rubbery basslines. However, her clean, trebly guitar, while less obviously tinged with highlife influences, is nevertheless immediately distinctive and an important component of their rhythmic, bobbing, wiry (and sometimes Wire-y) brand of post-punk – one that outlaws glum shoegazing and demands that you dance.
Straight Lines, a single from the 2015 album Why Choose, is an obvious crowd favourite, but set opener The Hype, Control Yourself (which jolts into life brilliantly halfway through) and the synth-heavy Wild Child (“We didn’t consider the trip hazards when we wrote that song”) all prove that new LP The Official Body, due to drop in January on respected Brighton imprint FatCat, is another step up. The between-song jokes need work (Easter’s “sex cymbal” gag aside) – but, overall, whatever Shopping are selling, we’re buying.
words BEN WOOLHEAD