Live Review: Howler, Hooded Fang, Fin

Hooded Fang
Hooded Fang

Hooded Fang live at The Fleece, Bristol

I feel as though I picked up the wrong glasses this morning. Everything is almost the same, except I feel as though I’ve walked into the early ’90s: I’m surrounded by plaid shirts, ironic t-shirts and snotty indie-rock. Not that I’m complaining. If laser eye surgery could guarantee this sort of vision then I’d pack my eyes up in boxes and send them off for treatment.

Bristol’s Fleece & Firkin was the venue for this trip back to an age when spiky guitars were the order of the day and Converse enjoyed a Kurt Cobain-inspired renaissance. First on, to strike a discord, was Fin. Though they had the thick and punchy basslines of Dirt-era Alice in Chains, their sound drew greater influence from the emotionally charged pop of Weezer and the bracing chill against which early Jimmy Eat World records battled.

Next up was Hooded Fang. What grabbed me most immediately was the subtle shifting of the psychedelic touches found on their records towards a more spaced out dissonance. It was as if Soundgarden’s Superunknown had been compressed by Beat Happening and had its claustrophobic paranoia sped up by youthful exuberance. Their mastery of a turn of chord saw the corners of the audiences’ collective mouths reach further towards their ears with each passing song.

With the ringing melodies of Hooded Fang barely settled, headliners Howler took to the stage. After engaging the audience in a brief chant, to retrieve their missing frontman and songwriter Jordon Gatesmith, their set commenced. Drawing influence from the scuzz punk found on the Manic Street Preachers’ maiden offering Generation Terrorists, and the sweaty rock of The Stooges, they held the audience captive for the entirety of their performance before eliciting an unsolicited chant for more upon their conclusion. Fans are never satisfied. Howler obliged and concluded with another rousing number, then vanished, amidst a puff of distortion.

Damien Girling

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