Just over two years ago, in November 2017, after a short trip and very slow journey back from France I arrived back home tired and sleepless just a few hours before heading out again to one of the best and most exciting gigs I have ever experienced, that legendary first Norwich gig by LA’s Starcrawler in Bedfords Crypt. At that time they had just the one single (Ants) and no merch at all but since then I have seen them a further two times in Norwich, they have released two albums and several singles. This was my third time seeing them in London having also seen them at OMEARA and Tufnell Park Dome.
Some bands are just worth making the extra effort for, albeit with the added expense and trouble of an away day gig but for me personally, Starcrawler are definitely one of them. Arriving in London just after lunchtime I made the short walk to The Museum of London for the London Calling exhibition, celebrating and commemorating that seminal album by The Clash forty years after its release. Among the exhibits were many Pennie Smith photos, lots of artefects, Clash clothing, gear, Joe Strummer‘s typewriter and Paul Simonon‘s smashed Fender Precision bass which was captured at the moment of its destruction in frustration at New York’s Palladium in 1979 by Pennie Smith and used as the iconic cover photo for London Calling. The exhibition is well worth a visit.
After this I made my way to Camden and some familiar haunts ahead of the gig at The Underworld, my first visit to this venue and I was impressed. Great sightlines, atmosphere and staff, drinks a tad pricey though. First band on were London’s Glossii an entirely unknown quantity to me ahead of the gig but terrific fun with lots of energy. At the time they put me in mind a bit of Penetration, The Au Pairs and a few others though subsequent views of their YouTube videos obviously has a much less raw sound but this was what I felt at the time of their enjoyable set and I’ll be looking out for them.
Next was Pretty Sick, a band from New York led by Sabrina Fuentes on bass and vocals. They too got the audience completely on-side with them with their grungey riot grrrl vibe and guest dancers.
With everyone thoroughly in the mood at about 9:30pm Starcrawler took to the stage to much enthusiasm from the welcoming and excited audience. That first Crypt gig was just over thirty minutes or so in length but Starcrawler have a lot of new material since then and played for a good 75 minutes or so with the energy levels not letting up for a second.
As much as I love the songs on that first album I couldn’t quite get over the feeling that the overall sound of the recordings quite did not completely do them justice, at least to those who have experienced their exhilarating live gigs. I wondered if any recording really could. Now, however, they have some of that mighty live spirit and energy captured expertly by the brilliant production from Nick Launay (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, L7, Yeah Yeah Yeahs et al.) on their latest album Devour You. A fine album which not only has the sound we have been craving but also an impressive diversity of songs with even something of a country twang on the excellent No More Pennies (look out for some Norwich footage in the accompanying video). A number of standout tracks on this album (Rich Taste, She Gets Around, Lizzy, Born Asleep, No More Pennies, Bet My Brains) which should increase their exposure and reputation even further, the recordings are big and the Starcrawler beast unleashed. They deserve it for bringing so much excitement back into music, I forget everything else when they are onstage delivering their loud, compelling punk and rock energy. They are growing and developing and are extremely tight from their relentless touring schedule. It’s incredible that I’ve seen this band, from LA, six times in two years.
Unfortunately, just as the set was ending I had to make a sharp exit to the tube station to be back in time for the last train back to Norwich from Liverpool Street (I made it with an unusually comfortable ten minutes to spare), and was therefore unable to get anything signed afterwards but did buy my merch before the gig started, there’s plenty on the table these days with albums, t-shirts, badges, jackets and even a rosary. As it turned out they were doing a Rough Trade signing the following lunchtime but I couldn’t really afford or justify a second expensive trip back to London again on consecutive days but it shows how much I love Starcrawler that I gave it very serious consideration.
Here’s hoping they will be back in the country next year with hopefully another Norwich date too, they’re one of the best and most exciting live rock ‘n’ roll bands around at the moment, as well as one of the most hardworking. Thank you Arrow, Henri, Tim and Austin for making me feel so young when watching and listening to you. The whole crowd clearly felt the same with young and old moshing together throughout. It was pretty cool to see a couple of other Norwich-ers there too!
Starcrawler – A truly original young band from the city of Los Angeles. Led by their nineteen year old frontwoman Arrow de Wilde, their take on dark and heavy rock & roll both recorded and through their chaotic live shows, brings such music into the 21st century as an almost transgressive form of pop.Doors – 19:30 // Price – £15.00 adv.8:00pm – Glossii
8:45pm – Pretty Sick
9:30pm – Starcrawler
Starcrawler – https://youtu.be/mwzlySJJJQQ
Starcrawler are all LA natives and met in high school. Their self-titled LP was released one year ago in January by Rough Trade Records to rave reviews. Since then, they’ve toured non-stop all over the world, including triumphant sets at Primavera, Rock Am Ring, Download Festival, Voodoo Festival, Fuji Rock, Reading, Leeds and more. In March, they won the 2018 SXSW Grulke prize for best US act after blowing minds at each of their nine shows. They were VEVO DSCVR artists with video testimonial from Shirley Manson who said “I feel like Starcrawler, and in particular Arrow, are really challenging the norms in which women are seen in music.” The amount of support they have received from their fellow artists has been overwhelming. They opened shows for the Foo Fighters at Olympic Park in London, and toured with The Distillers and MC5.