It’s a sweltering evening in Liverpool, and there’s a post-punk triple bill banquet on offer tonight. Kicking things off is Chester outfit YAMMERER, whose unpredictable, improv-style stage presence puts them somewhat at odds with the acts to follow. They open on a beguiling bluesy prologue that wouldn’t sound out of place on a David Lynch soundtrack, before rowdy frontman Jason joins the stage to elevate their sound into a frenzy of psychedelic punk, launching into their debut single, Poisonous Reptilian Colleagues and Co. With fluctuating tempos, contorted limbs and a raucous Mark E. Smith drawl, Yammerer expertly deliver on their dependable ability to animate a crowd.
The riotous fluidity of the first act is traded for disciplined dance-punk as Crack Cloud offshoot group N0V3L take the stage. Preparing us for the headliner of the evening, the angular-cheekboned band members position themselves around the drum kit. Using Devo-inspired rhythms, intermittent saxophones and crisp, jangly guitar riffs, it’s impossible not to dance along.
Crammed in on the stage (which is now looking overcrowded), it’s obvious that CRACK CLOUD aren’t your average band. Each member of the Calgary-based seven-piece is armed with an intense glare, an instrument, and microphone. Self-identifying as a ‘collective’, the group look more like they are about to launch into a protest rally than perform music. As the band members proceed to swap instruments and positions from track to track, this collective approach endures throughout.
With their impressive pairing of complex, afro-punk basslines and angular guitar melodies that ricochet off one another, the Gang Of Four comparisons are inescapable. Distinctive, shouty vocals not too distant from early Talking Heads era David Byrne bounce joyously around the room as the band rapidly make their way through the tracks from their eponymous album. In fact, so many microphones are dotted around the stage that it becomes increasingly difficult to pinpoint where the vocals are actually coming from, adding to the multi-layered, dizzying effect of their sound. Skronking guitar riffs and aggressive synths wail in unison alongside the persistent bassline on a slightly sped-up version of their progressive track, Swish Swash, which seamlessly throws in a final burst of energy into the room as the crowd yields to its throbbing, hypnotic loops.
Interaction with the audience isn’t necessary; the band allow their addictive riffs to create momentum and energise the onlookers, who, by the end of the set, are thrashing along with grins across their faces. It is this ability to straddle intense precision with fun which positions Crack Cloud comfortably alongside UK peers such as DUDS or Sweaty Palms, and makes them a welcome visitor to Liverpool’s thriving post-punk scene. With a creative vision as resilient as the rhythms they deliver, it’s clear that the Crack Cloud collective is here to stay.