Funeral Party, Sound of Guns, The Lines
Chris Eustace 13/02/2011
Funeral Party, if you believe their bio, cut their teeth at packed LA squat parties whilst all kinds of craziness went on around them. They should be familiar with the British version by now as well, having played Reading and Leeds 2010, before spending a hefty amount of time touring here late last year. Returning now as their debut album Golden Age Of Knowhere is released amid plenty of hype and expectation, they now have to negotiate a slighty soggy Sunday night in Camden.
Both support bands approach the Barfly by attempting to squeeze in a stadium rock sound in to it, with the moves to match, as both singers end up in the crowd. Setting the controls to 'epic', with plenty of almost-Bono-like “woahs”, there's not much light and shade to be found in Liverpudlians Sound Of Guns' set. As Gallantry segues into a slice of The Killing Moon,/i>, their ambitions are made even clearer. It threatens to all merge into one long song at certain points, but when it works, as on closing trio Flash A Light, Architects and ,i>Alcatraz, it really works. If they can break it up with some less overblown tracks, they may yet get to play those enormodromes.
Wolverhampton's The Lines perhaps peak a little bit too soon. Leaping onstage as spotlights dance around them, they launch into a great version of what appears to be a theme tune of sorts. It's a nice idea, especially if it's as memorable as this one, but sadly much of the rest of their set, while technically impressive, treads a musical path now well worn. A hardcore of pogoers down the front don't seem to mind this though, as singer Alex's vocals lend the band the air of a post-Bloc Party version of overlooked early 2000s contenders The Music.
Tearing straight into their album's title track, Funeral Party look to take no prisoners this evening, their short, sharp shocks of punk-funk made tailor made to get the room as sweaty as possible. You wait for the first chorus to kick in and everything to go off, and…it doesn't really happen. By Giant, three songs in, the band, particularly guitarist James Laurence Torres, are visibly confused and irked by this lethargic crowd, who appear to still be digesting their Sunday lunch. That, and there's the malaise that's the bugbear of band and gig-goer alike - too many people at the front trying to capture the event on their phones rather than enjoy what's happening in front of them.
So this gig becomes a test for the band, and rather than conform to some major-label "hype band" stereotype and throw a tantrum, or play the rest of the set through gritted teeth, they try every trick in the book to elicit a response, with singer Chad Elliott leaping on top of the bass drum, before jumping down to edge of the stage to eyeball the crowd, screaming out the words. This approach begins to pay dividends: signs of life are detected as the upbeat, urgent Finale builds to a singalong ending, hands are in the air for welcome change of pace Relics To Ruins, and finally, an actual moshpit forms for Where Did It Go Wrong, sarcastically dedicated to the then-impending Valentine's Day.
While the crowd tonight may not have been that forthcoming, that's not to say Funeral Party are perfect - on a couple of weaker songs they resemble nothing more than what would happen if We Are Scientists formed a Strokes tribute band, and former single Just Because is inexplicably omitted from tonight's set. Perhaps an early deployment would have got the crowd going earlier, but it must be said that the band do have one huge “If all else fails, break glass” ace up their sleeves. Naturally saved for last, the band deliver a scorching version of best song NYC Moves To The Sound of LA and this at last causes the pandemonium that those squats supposedly saw.
When they return to these shores in May to bigger venues, they ought to remember what the folded arms and smartphones of Camden Town taught them tonight. At least they got there in the end.