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Soundcheck - Brawlers, Decade, Years & Years live

Soundcheck - Brawlers, Decade, Years & Years live
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Amy Gravelle (@AmyGravelle) checks out a host of acts about to tour, here’s her recent highlights that will be playing a UK venue near you soon.

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It’s rare you come across a support band worthy of their own mention in this column, but a four-piece so unapologetically punk and commanding as Brawlers (pictured) are hard to ignore. Opening for Decade (below) on the UK leg of their tour, the Leeds-based rockers, forged with ex-members of Castrovalva, Leftover Crack and Dinosaur Pile-Up dominated Camden’s Barfly (18 May) with a surge of witty stage banter and non-stop power chord punches. The light-heartedly implemented tracks seem innocent enough on the surface, yet it’s the deeper connotations behind songs like Mothers And Fathers that offer murky enough undertones to keep the crowd interested, while Instagram Famous finds lead singer Harry George Johns in an openly confrontational burst, attacking a narcissistic generation of social media conformists. It’s clear from tonight’s vigorous performance that Brawlers days as a support band are, pleasingly, numbered.

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On the road: Huddersfield The Parish (7 June), Cardiff Undertone (2 July), Nass Festival (12 July), New Age Festival (16 August), Long Division Festival (12 September).

That said Decade are no mugs themselves, and while their support band are impressive the Bath quintet lived-up to the billing of their first ever UK headline tour. Adapting songs from this year’s debut album Good Luck for the top slot, Callous quickly encourages a jumbled, seething mass of bodies to form in the middle of the Barfly, as the crowd headbang along to the songs forceful guitar blows. Lead singer Alex Sears’ punchy vocal is vicious throughout and it’s during album highlights like Brainfreeze and Fake Teeth that he demonstrates a force and control way beyond his 20-something years. Overall, the band are a refreshing addition of raw talent to the British rock ranks. It’s still early for them, but they are honing something that looks sure to take them beyond the walls of Britain’s pub venues.

On the road: 2000trees (10-12 July), Nass Festival (13 July)

Taking a break from the sweaty rock scene, electro-pop trio Years & Years offered a much cooler prospect, playing a Nokia Lumia Live Sessions (19 May) in the depths of Aldwych tube station. Illuminated with neon lights, the stark shadows and cracked tiles of the disused stop provided a desolate backdrop as competition winners and guests squeezed into the former ticket hall. Lead singer Olly Alexander’s smooth R&B falsetto phrasing on first song Foundations opens itself to a few Justin Timberlake comparisons, but the sinister sounding synths bring a darker depth to songs like Traps, particularly in this subterranean environment. On this showing though, Years & Years are unlikely to remain hidden in the underground for too long.

On the road: Latitude Festival (17 – 20 July)


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