On the latest of a never-ending succession of stickily warm evenings, hardcore’s hottest property roll into Cardiff. Soul Glo’s 2022 album Diaspora Problems, their debut for Epitaph Records, was rightly lauded both for its propulsive, abrasive energy and its intellectual depth, as vocalist Jordan Pierce seemingly tried to address every one of a million and one social problems facing a Black man in modern America, in a series of mile-a-minute raps and rasped screams.
That same energy is present tonight as Soul Glo pack out the downstairs room in Clwb. There’s a healthy contingent there for local openers Spit Hood, whose onstage presence is magnetic: the three bare-chested lads take the stage to hammer out an aggressive and impressive electro-punk noise that lands somewhere between Death Grips and The Fall.
Tour support Big Special are extremely polished, very tight, massively confident in their own music and, in Callum Moloney, have a drummer who could demolish buildings with his bare hands. Between programmed basslines, Moloney’s beats and Joe Hicklin’s ability to switch between earthy spoken-word poetry and bluesy howl, this duo are a slick outfit and they feel like they’re going places. Expect to see them showcased on Jools Holland sooner than Spit Hood.
Gold mic grill meets gold tooth grillz as Pierce attacks Soul Glo’s set. The crowd, momentarily hesitant, erupts and the place is a mass of good-natured, sweating bodies for the remainder of the 40 minutes. Splicing their set with sampled Spice Girls numbers and a good minute or so of Radio Ga Ga played off a phone, Soul Glo’s approach is miles off that of many of their tough-guy peers.
It’s an approach that works, though, and stokes a conflagration of positive energy in the room, as guitarist GG Guerra scowls and storms his way through to set closer and genuine anthem, Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?). At this point the band members swap instruments, the crowd storms the stage, and a cathartic howl erupts out of the open door and into the sticky night.
Soul Glo, Big Special + Spit Hood, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Thurs 22 June
words HUGH RUSSELL photos NADINE BALLANTYNE
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