The basement walls are rattling and The 100 Club is threatening to implode under the eardrum bursting noise of New Jersey’s Static Jacks. It’s their first UK gig, but they look like they were born under the iconic ‘100’ that looms over the stage. Despite appearances resembling the poster boys for an American Apparel ‘punk’ campaign, with skinny jeans, chiseled jaws and perfect hair, their sound is a very British mix between The Libertines and early punk. Singer Ian Devaney has the energy – and hair – to slot easily into Dananananaykroyd, and it’s that energy that, despite their early 8pm slot, wins them the best crowd reaction of the night.
Eagulls are a very different beast. With baggy jeans and straggly hair, their energy is translated into anger, which pours from the growling, shouted vocals of singer George Mitchell. Formed from the ashes of two Leeds hardcore bands, they’ve lifted those vocals and merged it with nu-slacker riffs that at times recall Dinosaur Jnr. As a front man Mitchell, too, couldn’t be more different from the previous band’s Devaney. He shuffles from foot to foot and rocks into the microphone with an air of Ian Curtis, dispelled by his gravelled shout. They’ve not got a full set of songs to make it work consistently yet, but when it does, it’s an unexpected, riotous delight.
Entry tonight is free, thanks to 100 Club saviours Converse – their ‘partnership’ with the venue having saved it from shutting down last year – who gave tickets away through their website. The corporatisation of the infamous jazz and punk rebel hangout isn’t lost on Mitchell, who mutters a parting gift of, “Trainers are shit, wear shoes.” It’s a sentiment Mazes may well echo after tonight. More at home in a dingy Dalston bar with a small but adoring crowd, they awkwardly spread across the impossibly wide stage and look uncomfortable as the lairy crowd, here for the freebies, tries to force them into a spot of onstage banter.
Their debut album came out at the start of the year, a couple of months after Yuck‘s, and they were immediately catalogued along with them; a miniature UK grunge revival. They’re tighter than their better-known scene-mates, preferring short, sharp stabs to long, lingering doses of guitar feedback. A Thousand Heys was a perfect ode to Guided By Voices and Pavement, but with indiepop licks, it was charming and listenable but very, very cool.
But that cool’s gone tonight and they struggle to generate much interest from the crowd, who slowly gravitate towards the bar. The songs are there; Bowie Knives, Surf & Turf/Maths Tag, Till I’m Dead, Summer Hits and J&J Don’t Like, but by the end even the band look bored. Singer Jack Cooper even tries inviting people up to dance on stage but gets no takers, and by the time they slump off stage their set’s already been forgotten.