It already feels legendary. In fact, within moments of this gig finishing at least two people said to me “It felt like seeing Nirvana at Norwich Arts Centre!” – they should know, they were there. Alas I was not but I was at Bedfords Crypt to experience this astonishing gig by Starcrawler from Los Angeles, brought to us by the excellent Punk Rock Blues. Starcrawler are the latest Californian act to blow the socks off a Norwich audience recently and this was a genuinely thrilling, exciting gig, just what music is all about and it was special to experience it in this venue. Quite possibly one of my all-time favourite, thrilling gigs.
Cycling into the city which was illuminated by a full moon and an impressive fireworks display gave an inkling of what was to come later from Starcrawler. They put on something more than a gig, it’s a performance, a show, making live music incredibly exciting.
This was one of my most anticipated gigs of the year and it did not disappoint. I was pleased to make it at all in fact, arriving in Norwich from a week in France and an arduous overnight journey back only returning to my house a few hours before the gig. Exhausted and sleepless it was an effort to head out again but I’d have been gutted if I’d missed this. Local band New Scientists kicked things off at around 8:30pm. I don’t think our paths have crossed before but I was impressed by their confident swagger and big sound. Some of the vocals owed something to obvious influences of The Arctic Monkeys and 90s Britpop but it was their strong sound and their more original songs that grabbed me the most from this very young band. That’s what I’d like to hear more of. Impressive and promising.
I cannot overstate how much I had been looking forward to seeing Starcrawler, so much so that I cut short my first holiday in years by a day in order to get back and see them in The Crypt, the perfect venue for it. Arriving fully formed this dynamic young band have a glorious, thunderous song in their debut single, Ants, which is infectious, raw and catchy. Their amazing guitarist Henri Cash (just sixteen I believe and already been playing guitar for half of his life!) is incredible and seems to be channeling some of my favourite guitarists and sounds whilst stamping it all firmly with his own identity, whilst singer Arrow de Wilde is as compelling a band frontperson as anyone I have seen. An extraordinary, exceptional performer. In a hospital gown and looking like she has just somehow broken free from too much solitary in a padded cell. Charistmatic, wild, a little bit scary, theatrical and unpredicable these gigs are one hell of a ride. Henri is quite a spectacle himself whilst the rhythm section of Austin and Tim are tight, solid, and powerful too. A packed, sold out Crypt had a heaving moshpit which I have not seen in many years in smaller venues like this, it was absolutely fantastic to see the ancient Crypt full of people young and not so young, male and female going wild to this great band.
A week away from the city had me slightly out of the loop in terms of this Friday’s musical happenings in the city but I was aware of notable gigs at Norwich Arts Centre (Zola Jesus), The Ruts at The Waterfront, Urban Voodoo Machine at OPEN, Carwash at Flamingo, Dub at The Owl, Blues at The Murderers, the weekly session at Jurnets, and a three floor Howlback Hum takeover at Karma opposite with a great line-up, and as usual for Norwich, countless smaller gigs around the city yet the Crypt was absolutely rammed, with plenty of musicians and legends of the music community in the audience too, plus those in the know about what a heck of a gig this was guaranteed to be which made for a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation as we edged towards the 9:30 moment of Starcrawler’s set.
The band are tight and dynamic and as well as her powerful vocals Arrow brings theatre and occasion to the gig, writhing, contorting, trembling, running through the audience, spilling fake blood from her mouth whilst Henri is bashing out powerful chords and riffs, striking punk rock guitar-god shapes and even strapping the guitar itself around the neck of a girl from the audience to finish the song as Arrow flew banshee-like into the audience and disappeared upstairs. Giving the guitar to an audience member to finish the song is possibly a nod to the punk ethos of “anyone can do this” but I think Henri is a guitar genius. 40 or so minutes of thrilling new-wave punk rock brilliance, songs barely hitting two minutes, a wild audience and music with attitude and presence. This was all so energising and wiped away all my tiredness. Definitely one of my highlight gigs of the year, music as it should be and genuinely exciting … Starcrawler are surely destined for greatness. No merch, no talking and no encore but it would be impossible to follow that finale, it was perfect to end it there. It’s hard to imagine the wider world won’t soon notice them and really sit up but for now enjoy them in spaces like this, they put on such a show making the set absolutely enthralling and primal. I loved it.
(Some footage from the night shot by Nige Nudds – thanks for the kind permission!)
It’s incredible to think that I have been able to recently enjoy such wonderful gigs as this one, and Twin Guns, in small, intimate underground venues in Norwich. This was another fantastic night. Great band, great sound, great venue and great audience. Starcrawler apparently have an album in the works … I cannot bloody wait!
Event press release:
Punk Rock Blues are delighted to announce Starcrawler will play Norwich as part of their debut UK tour at The Crypt on Friday 3 November. Starcrawler are a white hot teenage sensation from Los Angeles recently snapped up by Rough Trade Records. The band formed one year ago when lead vocalist Arrow de Wilde first met guitarist Henri Cash at their Echo Park high school. Shortly thereafter, the streets of Hollywood brought them the rhythm section of Austin Smith (drums) and Tim Franco (bass).
Starcrawler play squalling riffs and thundering beats, and their incendiary performances, fronted by de Wilde’s otherworldly magnetism, recalls nothing as much as a youthful amalgam of the Cramps, the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, andAlice Cooper.
Rough Trade released Starcrawler’s first single “Ants” earlier this year-The song, written days after the foursome first played together, was produced with Steven McDonald of Redd Kross (The Donnas, Fun.).
London DJ Matt Wilkinson quickly discovered the track and played it his Beats One show, after which the track made its way to Zane Lowe and Sir Elton John, both of which spun the track repeatedly.
Starcrawler will be releasing a new album this fall, recorded over the past few months with Ryan Adams in his Pax AM studio in Hollywood.
Many thanks to Starcrawler, Punk Rock Blues, Bedfords Crypt and all who made this gig happen, one of my all-time favourite gigs.
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017