Gigs these days come with an air of extra gratitude from bands — especially when they’re scheduled midweek — because of the rising costs of living. It’s a sad-but-true reality for the music industry, which has fought so hard to protect its place among society. But the show goes on and artists put on even bigger performances; that’s what we got from The Howlers’ opening leg of their tour, at Leeds’ Hyde Park Book Club.
FIKA, a local two-piece, opened, with a session drummer (who I recognised from Artio). The duo’s tight harmonies and ethereal tones suitably warmed up the room for the rest of the night, and it came just a week ahead of their next slot, supporting BlackWaters at Oporto.
The comfortably melodic Everglades from Barnsley gently assumed the stage afterwards, making their starting bid entirely instrumentally. For those unfamiliar among the crowd, it wasn’t clear whether they’d be a band that blasted out vocals, but they proceeded to split the mic responsibilities across their two guitarists. Their relatively steady blend of indie-rock raised the tempo — and the heat of the room — that bit further again, setting the scene for The Howlers to light the fuse. And with a quote from The Pale White on in their Spotify bio, Everglades seem to have the Newcastle rockers’ endorsement, too. Far from a bad thing.
When they’re not in the studio, The Howlers, by their own admission, are rehearsing or gigging. That mentality is in their DNA and, boy, doesn’t it translate? They’ve got the exact hard-working, dedicated qualities that all successful bands should have, which comes across so well. Add that to their supersized pedalboards and massive amps and you’ve really got the recipe perfected.
I find three-pieces impressive by default, but this outfit’s sharp drumming, slick, almost funky, rhythm section and crisp vocals stitched together created something magnetic and mesmerising on stage. They played effortlessly in sync, and professionally didn’t let the slipping of mic stands or drumsticks detract from a second of their well-structured, transition-focused performance. They brought out all the bangers, too, with ‘Lost Without You’ and ‘Nothing To Lose’ satisfying my ears especially.
While The Howlers are sonically akin to The Black Keys in their studio output, you still detect that when they’re live, in front of you, but there’s an ante-upping frantic energy to their delivery as well. So, not only are they producing must-listen tunes that should draw you to their gigs, but their engaging presence is worth witnessing alone.
What’s more, they’re a really fab band to chat to; they’re all too happy to get to know their fans who have turned out to see them, buy their vinyl (big up Blood Records) and spend their evenings revelling in their sensational sounds. What a pleasure to be part of it.
*With thanks to The Howlers and Zeitgeist Agency for the press invite