The dingy Stage @ Leeds Met played host to a headlining band that recently packed out the Radio 1/NME tent at Reading festival and the whole night felt like they were capable of something much bigger.
New York duo Rewards kicked off the night, their minimalist synth pop had minimal effect on the crowd and an attempt by Aaron Pfenning for some audience participation went astray when he jumped down off the stage to meet a crowd of blank faces on the front row. Pfenning, floundered around on a dimly lit stage to low beats that shook the rafters, but no one in the building.
Six piece Goldheart Assembly had a much more positive reception, their driving rhythm, beat out on a personalised oil drum by Jake Bowser showed signs of a band clearly enjoying their music. Heralded for their pitch perfect harmonies, the whole band worked together to achieve a thing of beauty. If the melodies were slightly reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, the backing bass and percussion struck more of a 2008 Vampire Weekend. They played songs from their recent debut album 'Wolves and Thieves' which was critically acclaimed after it's March release and has taken them on a whirlwind tour around England. Defiantly a band to watch, they won't be supporting other bands for much longer.
A battle of opinion broke out before We Are Scientists came on stage, with half the crowd screaming for Keith and the other for Chris. Notably, most of the voices were female
The band shuffled out and picked up their instruments, they've been doing this for years and are well rehearsed in how to get a crowd moving, jumping straight into new single 'Nice Guys'. After years of relentless touring, this is still a band of good friends, goofy comic intermissions and fantastic riffs. Keith Murray thrashed around the stage playing the catchy solo to 'Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt' whilst Chris Cain pounded the bass. If you listen to any of the albums, it's hard to believe it's just two guys doing all the work. They were on top form on the night and barely pause for breath between playing hit after hit.
"This song is about getting as high as f*ck" Keith told the crowd before easing into a more sombre 'Textbook'. The set list is dominated by crowd pleasers from the first two albums, but songs from recent album, Barbara like 'I Don't Bite' and 'Central AC' have their place, as a sign that the band is growing up. Rather than telling jokes and singing songs about college hook ups, they're focussing on more mellow tunes and steadier beats. The humour is still there, but it's hidden deeper within the songs, and I think the crowd appreciated that on the night .
The night reaches a pinnacle when Aaron from Rewards comes on stage to play guitar during 'Great Escape' whilst Keith Murray jumps into the crowd to show him how audience interaction is really done. The sweaty Keith climbs back up on stage to play show closer 'After Hours' and the crowd depart. There is a mutual feeling as we left that the New York pair will be back soon and they'll be bringing something much bigger with them next time.
Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt
I Don't Bite
This Scene Is Dead
Let's See It
It's a Hit
Jack and Ginger