Do you speak guitar? Could you parse the seemingly identical layers of lo-fi fuzz to reveal three separate young bands tonight? Funny how tiny differences equal big outcomes: every act on this bill deals in scrappy noise to some degree but only one steps above the wash to become anything more than vaguely enjoyable scuzz. Basically, you need to take away the fact that JOANNA GRUESOME ARE FUCKING BRILLIANT, and effortlessly better than openers Mowbird, whose angular zeal is fine enough, if a little unmemorable, and headliners Black Tambourines, who jitter through tight indie that arrives frayed and febrile. The latter band are like some modern day Merseybeat combo, head wobbling and ooh-ing over songs that strut awkwardly towards pop greatness but never quite get there. Their rush of breathless clattering is a benign tonic while it lasts though, and comes with plenty shy boy charm.
So why are Joanna Gruesome so good? All their imperfections are their strengths: anything mumbled against them in the crowd gets too easily batted back. They’ve got a singer who murmers like she’s crippled with stagefright and/or boredom? Well fuck you, it’s another layer of perfect lo-fi guitar noise. They’re a bunch of skinny legged kids who look like they can barely dress themselves? Well fuck you, they’re the kids who’ve won through knowing no separation between DIY moshpit, unselfconscious love of music and making a racket yourself. Their version of Galaxie 500’s ‘Tugboat’ is a good calling card: verses that are sleepy, dreamy, stumbling into crashing sections that junk the choruses for howling guitar waves. JG originals are sweet too, sometimes literally: boy/girl vocals (estimated first shave date for male singer: 2017) are honeyed but not cloying, lost in six string distortion that’s a brilliant crush of wailing, stabbing notes and bullseye melody. “Twee Sonic Youth” is too trite – Joanna Gruesome are cute and rough, gangly and huggable, with rocks in their cardigans. Start stalking them now.