A smokiness in the air, a distinctly emo flavour to The Key Club… Softcult must’ve been in town. With them, they drew a dedicated crowd to Merrion Street — albeit one more modest than some particularly packed-out gigs I’ve witnessed at the venue — plus local outfit, PLEASURE CENTRE, who opened. Complementing the slightly gloomier aesthetics, the main support came in the form of rising Glaswegian stars, Spyres, who have been on the road with Softcult throughout their UK tour. This was the last leg of it, though both bands were still fresh and energetic.
Just hours before their debut EP, ‘the weight of it all’, was due to land, the noise-driven, sombre dreampop four-piece, PLEASURE CENTRE, swamped the ears of listeners who got down early doors. They put on a frantic performance that often culminated in them hanging their heads and shoulders in an almost sleep-mode style as the amps rang and their drummer continued. It was frenzied but so well-orchestrated, ahead of the switch to Spyres.
Dual-fronted by Emily and Keira, who both play guitar and share the mic duties, the Scottish quad are the words on everyone’s lips these days. They’ve been doing well on the festival circuit over the past year (TRNSMT and Live At Leeds being among the noteworthy mentions), and they consistently snag big gigs supporting massive acts such as Nothing But Thieves, Lauren Hibberd and The Snuts. Their carved-out future couldn’t be much brighter, yet they’re humble and coolly unfazed by their plethora of no-mean-feat accomplishments.
They delivered all the hits — ‘See Through You’, ‘Kids’ and ‘Fake ID’ — with ease. They laid out their deft instrumental abilities: built-out guitar hooks, rumbling bass riffs, thumps of the drums. Their combined skills have created a melting pot of youthful talent, which is why they’re one of the grandest examples of Glasgow’s robust music scene.
Spyres rolled out a playful cover from The B-52’s, before wrapping up with the infectiously loop-worthy ‘Otherside’. This was all as Softcult’s Phoenix Arn-Horn watched from the front of the crowd…
Powerful, angelic vocal output is probably the first thing you notice of Softcult’s goth-rock blend. The Canadian sister duo of Mercedes and Phoenix — who both sing but own the guitar and drums, respectively — were chatty and polite on stage on the night. They also came armed with a story or two about the inspiration behind certain songs.
Non-chronologically talking here, it was Mercedes’ poignant speech about Sarah Everard’s tragic murder ahead of the final, encore song, ‘BWBB’, which particularly — and rightly — riled the audience. We all clapped and cheered the sentiments. The on-point, hell-raising song sealed their set impeccably, and the message seemed more prevalent ahead of my solo walk home.
But before all the geeing up, it was to my delight that ‘Spit It Out’ was obviously played. ‘Gaslight’ was a bristling piece to hear in person, which still sent all the right shivers of accuracy. It was served with force, too, thanks to their commanding session guitarist and bassist, who expanded their live sound.
The genteel tearjerker ‘Birdsong’ and melancholic ‘Take It Off’ were outstanding as well, but the short ‘Been a Son’ cover was a serious highlight. Cobain would’ve been just as chuffed as me.
With thanks to Siobhan at Public City PR for the press entry