I can’t have been alone in that Key Club crowd, feeling like the scheduling/booking gods had done us a solid. The only thing that was shuffled around was the venue, from its original Stylus listing. The rest was as if by magic. Trash Boat with Strange Bones and Calva Louise as support, with Blakeeleven joining them, too? Brain. Couldn’t. Compute. And Death Blooms were on initially as well. It was a line-up worthy of a festival…
It might’ve been the third time of seeing Strange Bones and Calva Louise for me, but it was the first since I interviewed both bands. So, I knew it would have a special buzz about it. I’ve unashamedly been obsessive in my listening to both their latest albums.
Calva Louise burst onto the stage at 8pm sharp with a fresh glow and bags of vigour — they were so ready to be up there on the first night of the tour. Jess Allanic couldn’t be a warmer, friendlier lead vocalist, and she’s an outstanding advert for picking up a guitar. She announced that playing alongside Death Blooms, Blakeeleven, Strange Bones and Trash Boat “feels like a holiday”, and that certainly resonated and shone through in their set.
Thudding, ground-rumbling drums took hold in the immense ‘Euphoric’, ‘Tiranito’ and ‘Camino’. The trio also welcomed good pal and rapper Blakeeleven onto the stage for their huge collaboration, ‘Ephemeral’, which injected an electric new vibe to the atmosphere. And if Jess’ audience participation wasn’t already faultless, she even got right into the crowd with her guitar, shredding on ‘Belicoso’, the song they closed with. What an appetiser.
Strange Bones followed Calva Louise and there was this fizzing, dazzling aura as they launched into things, frontman Bobby Bentham in his trademark monochrome, pinstripe suit. They didn’t seem to think people could’ve already known who they were, which felt alien to me, as having them as support was such a big bonus.
‘England Screams’, ‘Jungle’ and ‘Deathwish’ were absolute rippers, with all the magnetism of their electro-punk niche carrying incredibly through the amps. These tunes from the album have earned Strange Bones their swagger, tenfold. They’ve worked tirelessly hard on the record’s output and it’s well demonstrated when they perform. The tracks also not only symbolise the precipice of change for the band, but they just so happened to emerge at a time when I was tinkering away, plotting some major Record Weekly plans. Rather aptly, that includes interviewing Strange Bones. So you could say it was fitting.
Their set tore open with the newly-varnished album version of the ferocious ‘Snakepit’, but I’m delighted that they wheeled out my die-hard favourite later, too: ‘Here Come The Wolves’. And as their 30 minutes was almost up, Bobby fashioned a Moses-style parting of the crowd into two waves that would crash together in a mosh pit. It was all aligned around their impressively supercharged cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’. You know what? There really are some similarities in their wild sounds, too, though there just isn’t another band out there quite like Strange Bones.
All support acts were really grateful to Trash Boat for bringing them on tour, but they’re so worthy of their places on the billing. Not many gigs deliver artists that open for the headliner as explosively, or with such credentials behind them. It’s been a mammoth year for Calva Louise and Strange Bones, so being in their presence again was glorious.
There was a hum to the room as ‘Silence Is Golden’ ascended into its fully riotous self and the headline act assumed centre stage. Trash Boat kept everyone nicely on their toes, with a mix of songs from the new album and some older favourites interspersed.
A Leeds crowd is always rowdy, but the haphazard, view-blocking clinging to ceiling rails and pipes while surfing across bodies was a bit much at points. So much so, there was some security intervention…
Trash Boat were there to perform, there was no doubt, so I did wonder if the persistent stage-diving interruptions marred that big, stage-presence element for frontman Tobi Duncan a little. Spectators were getting their 25 seconds of fame while the band were trying to kick their tour off in style and serve us up a weighty measure of punk rock, which they did still manage. But that’s just my take. Let’s face it, irrespective, Trash Boat were so commanding.
They also won over the support act fans yet again, by inviting Jess to step in for Milkie Way’s verse on the hauntingly-accurate hell-raiser, ‘Bad Entertainment’. Then Bobby returned to assist on the mic during ‘Alpha Omega’.
The title track came towards the end of the set, when the sweaty, heaving room was certainly — and suitably — feeling amazing. By that time, we’d had an acoustic segment and words from Tobi about him “reserving the right to make any music [he wants]”. Absolutely. And when gigs are as fiery as that, there’s no way the band would be getting off without an encore. The standard “Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire” chants were quickly chased up by two extra tracks; one of which was ‘He’s So Good’, which couldn’t have been more relevant.