You can tell the health of a music scene not by looking at the leading lights and the major stars, but by examining the lower rungs of the ladder. So it is with Brighton: global superstars such as Royal Blood and Rag n’ Bone Man reflect well on our home city and boost its exposure, but shows like tonight are a shining example of how much talent dwells here. Following a recent high-profile support slot with Tigercub, Glum took on their very first headline show at the Green Door Store and, with three other superb local bands on the line-up too, there was a multitude of reasons to be feeling anything but glum about the future.
First though, a shout out to Patrick at Lout Promotions for once again putting together a superlative collection of local artists. Opening tonight was Five Kites, who constructed such a fearsome wall of sound that there was almost a comical sense of a crowd being physically unable to get closer than a few feet away. The Uckfield band are far from just a big noise though, as the softer ‘Sonder’ shows. Bassist Ollie is an absolute beast of a musician, literally punching his guitar at the end of closer ‘Perfume’ to pummel every inch of sound out of it. Returning to the scene of their debut gig, it brought to mind how important venues like Green Door Store and their type are – it’s truly never been more important to support your local venue than it is these days, as they provide so much opportunity for great bands like this to win an audience.
Next up, Ragweed, who brought a tougher edge to the night. Tracks like ‘West Coast Pop’ bounced along on a sleazy, bass-led riff from Callum Regelous-Cooke while frontman Tom Adamson was an irresistible presence. A breathless mix of punk, grunge and a real down and dirty rock sound (i.e. – all the greatest things in music), this was a dazzlingly exciting performance from a band who, if there is any sort of fairness to the world, will be absolutely massive. Drummer Josh Pingram, on his first ever live gig, fiercely kept things driving onwards, and the devastating crescendo of ‘Up n Under’ hints at an exciting future when their debut album lands this summer.
Following them, a true Brightonsfinest favourite in Projector, who brought with them a complete change of pace. As the lights went out, the atmosphere darkened before the venue was treated to a customarily exceptional performance. ‘Death March’ had woozy elements of Beach House drifting through it, while ‘Let Me’ touched on the Pixies’ quiet-loud aesthetic. What is particularly interesting about Projector is that they manage to pull in so many disparate influences and sounds and turn it into something new, an ability that sounds simple but is beyond so many other artists. Brighton audiences know all about Lucy, Edward and Demelza of course and it didn’t take long for the party to get started – ‘Love’ in particular was sensational tonight, and rounded off another superb set.
It would have been understandable for Glum to feel slightly daunted at following those three acts but, happily, they took their headliner status by the scruff of the neck. It was to much surprise in the Brightonsfinest office the next morning to discover that this was only their third gig, as nothing on the night made that seem like even a possibility. Frontman Rory Nash has spoken openly about his struggles with self-belief in the past, but tonight showed that he and his band can truly own a stage. With a set list pulled from both EPs (Anhedonia and Compassion Fatigue), it felt like a celebration of all the hard work getting them to this point. In the same way that Nash’s obvious heroes Nirvana did, they re-appropriate poppy hooks and melodies and turn them into something tougher and emotionally rawer. There are certainly musical similarities between the Seattle legends and Glum musically, but such is the way of modern music – bands take from the past, add their own spin and attempt to take it further.
As the night progressed, it was apparent (and pleasing) to see that Nash was settling into life as a frontman on stage. The hair that previously obscured his face was swept back, and you could almost feel a tangible relaxation. ‘Still Alive’ was perfect, its quiet-loud dynamic suiting Glum down to a tee – as a three-piece, they are as tight as you would expect from a band who seem to have been waiting their entire lives for this. Bertie Morris is the quintessential bassist, looking calm while chaos ensued around him while drummer Josh Stone was a rock behind them both. In short, this was a performance that made a mockery of their previous limited amount of stage time. A defining moment, this should be an evening that proves that both Nash and Glum have got this.