sun 19/08/2018

Preoccupations, The Haunt, Brighton review - energetic set struggles to win over audience | reviews, news & interviews

Preoccupations, The Haunt, Brighton review - energetic set struggles to win over audience

Preoccupations, The Haunt, Brighton review - energetic set struggles to win over audience

Four-man post-punk machine try to whip up a storm in reluctant seaside venue

Preoccupations: nothing if not tight

Hailing from Canada and born from the ashes of cult indie heroes Women (the band responsible for that chiming Calgary guitar sound), Preoccupations haven’t let up since their first LP Viet Cong was released just three years ago. Two albums and a whole lot of touring later, the four-piece have hit the road again in support of their latest release, New Material, which reveals a more brooding, considered side to their frenetic style of math-rock-post-punk-doom-goodness. The introduction of this "new material" to their set at The Haunt in Brighton made for a performance that, while more nuanced, was less instantaneous than expected. 

Modular synth-based two piece JOYFULTALK are the sole support, playing a set built on electronic drones and gradually shifting sonic textures. Behind them is a tight circle of canvas, which acts as a screen for projections which hypnotically change colour in time with the music. They’re relatively well-suited to the headline act, with the dour melodies complementing the downbeat bass and drums nicely, and whilst not the most engaging live act ever, their simple melodies and insistent beats do keep the audience entertained.

Although not on top form tonight, Preoccupations are still a force to be reckoned with

Being almost at the end of a long multi-continent tour, Preoccupations would under normal circumstances be forgiven for appearing worn-out; even so, it’s a shame that the lacklustre crowd and oddly structured setlist appears to affect the vibe of their set so strongly. The audience seem relatively unimpressed at the end of their 10-song performance, perhaps due to the absence of crowd-pleasing singles like "Espionage" and "Degraded". That's not to say, however, that the band hold anything back during the songs they have included, spending their hour on stage blasting through a set that moves comfortably between claustrophobic post-punk and mournful indie-rock ballads. 

Drawing on their three LPs and, in opening track “Select Your Drone”, the less well known Cassette EP, Preoccupations are nothing if not tight, something which is most evident in recent contemplative anthem “Disarray” and the stomping "Silhouettes”. 2016’s “Memory” falls depressingly flat, despite its pop hooks and meandering structure. Their ease on stage may be what fundamentally undermines their set as, playing everything as mechanically as they do, there seems to be less spontaneity and fun for both the band and audience alike. 

As any fan of the band will attest, the sprawling “Death” is usually the jewel on Preoccupation’s post-punk crown – the album version clocks in at just over 11 minutes and, while I’d be willing to bet that the live version is generally around twice that length, tonight it feels slightly stunted. It still manages, along with the pounding “March of Progress”, to be a set highlight, with melodies that are fast-paced, intricate, and purposefully catchy, lending the track an air of stability despite the frantically chopping guitars and driving bassline. Even with a lengthy breakdown section, the song – and set – ends frustratingly early thanks to a strict 10 o’clock venue curfew, although the band themselves seem relatively relieved as they leave the stage; as fun and tight as they are, all four members must be exhausted, a fact which is distressingly apparent in front of the mostly unmoving crowd. One thing this doesn’t alter, however, is the sheer quality of the music performed. Although not on top form tonight, Preoccupations are still a force to be reckoned with.

@_memoryboy

There's less spontaneity and fun for both the band and audience alike

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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