Crystal Castles, Magnetic Man, Everything Everything, The Vaccines - NME Awards Tour 2011
Paul Cook 11/02/2011
With the dynamic dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man and frantic electronic euphoria of Crystal Castles, the NME Awards Tour had seemingly turned a new leaf in 2011. Both are indicative that perhaps the NME has a taste for something a little different to the usual indie rock products of its own hype machine.
Of course, it couldn't totally shake off its former leanings towards the indie-kids-of-the-moment which is why Everything Everything and The Vaccines formed the earlier half of the bill. The latter came to the stage amidst an excited bunch inside Norwich's LCR and proceeded to play a solid selection of material that demonstrated some great vocal talent and a catchy riff or two. The band's sound errs a little too close on the side of Ramones-tribute act for me but nevertheless they know how to entertain.
Everything, Everything were a breath of fresh air bringing their falsetto-laden debut Man Alive to life on-stage. Whilst the tracks tend to blur into one another for those of us less accustomed to this Bronze-medalled band of the BBC's Sound of 2010, there were a few distinct highlights that got the crowd going. Suffragette, Suffragette (These guys really like to name things twice) is a track that delivers toe-tapping rhythm and flawless falsetto vocals to produce an interesting indie-pop product.
The highlight of the night came in the form of the 'Big Three' from the dubstep world. When Benga, Skream and Artwork formed to make the world's first dubstep super-group 18 months ago, it seemed that their debut would either sink or swim. Luckily it swam, with eclectic touches of garage and R'n'B that enabled it soar out from the underground scene and blossom in the charts. Introducing new talent like Katy B and established international stars like John Legend gave dubstep the fresh vocal that it needed to appeal to the masses.
Many would be forgiven for thinking that Magnetic Man wouldn't just struggle with the live platform (three guys on laptops could leave a lot of people twiddling their thumbs) but that they'd also struggle with an NME crowd. Both assumptions were dead wrong as the atmosphere was electric, the showmanship from Benga in particular enough to keep a crowd entertained for hours. The sound was incredible, a thoroughly kinetic experience of crowd energy and pure, unhinged bass.
When Crystal Castles came to the stage the buzz inside the LCR was brilliant, a crowd well and truly warmed up by the support. Alice Glass arrived on crutches to perform with as much energy as ever and the room filled with euphoric sound and strobe-lighting. After the duo's sophomore album Crystal Castles II remained typically abstract and experimental their infamously sensory live shows remained unchanged too.
Words and Photographs by Paul Cook