The Subways are about to come on for their headline slot at tonight’s Camden Crawl festival, and the Canaervan Castle is packed to the rafters. Outside there’s a long queue of desperate fans trying to get past security before the allocated start time of 10.15pm – an impressive feat considering none other than Graham Coxon, Secret Machines, Buzzcocks, Le Tigre and Hope Of The States amongst others will shortly be commencing sets at various intimate venues in this north London suburb.
But perhaps this was to be expected – there’s a huge buzz surrounding this trio at the moment. They’re young (lead singer Billy Lunn is the oldest at 20), they’re attractive, they play ludicrously catchy rock ‘n’ roll songs (think The Von Bondies and The White Stripes with more melody) and they’re British (straight out of the Home Counties in fact) – a killer formula if ever there was one. What’s more, their debut single, the rather marvellous Oh Yeah, has just hit the airwaves and MTV2, another possible reason for the semi hysteria that’s surrounding them at the moment.
However, as soon as they arrive on stage and the opening chords of set opener I Want To Hear What You Have Got To Say are struck, it’s unequivocally clear that this band warrant the current level of attention. It’s a track that starts off quietly with Lunn’s hushed vocals bringing the venue to a virtual standstill, before it bursts into full blown action, leaving you mesmerised by the time it reaches its frantic conclusion.
It’s a typical Subways song – tug-of-war boy-girl vocals and a hugely infectious melody, and sure to be a calling card of theirs over the next 12 months and beyond. The Nirvana-influenced Holiday follows – its manic guitar riff recalls certain seminal moments such as Breed or Aneurysm and galvanises a mini riot at the front of the stage, so much so that Lunn’s microphone stand is knocked over on several occasions.
The pace doesn’t let up for a second – for the rest of the short set, we’re treated to a handful of impeccable two and a half minute rock songs. Whether it’s the incredibly raw grunge of Rock ‘N’ Roll Queen or the magnificently catchy 1am, Lunn howls frantically like a latter day Cobain or Craig Nicholls. Bassist Charlotte Cooper jumps around the small stage excitedly and Josh Morgan keeps things in check with a machine-like performance with the sticks – there’s even a Grohl-esque drum solo thrown in thanks to a technical fault with the guitars.
After 25 minutes of near chaos, the band say their goodbyes and depart. It’s been a display of undeniable confidence and quality, and an intriguing taster of a band that we’ll be seeing a hell of a lot more of in the near future. In short, The Subways are not just another mediocre group that are being hyped up beyond all proportion, they’re a band that you should be getting very excited about. With a tad more original material, they’ll have it made.