Whether it’s age, COVID or a combination of the two, something that I have found difficult to muster over recent months is getting excited by gigs. During these long periods of isolation I’ve caught many many bands, either via a livestream or on Youtube. I’ve travelled across nations, attending festivals and shindigs across the musical spectrum all from my sofa.
But when I saw that Calva Louise were playing Bristol I felt the little light inside start to shine and instinctively I purchased tickets without checking my bank balance first – like you always should!
The venue? Exchange. One of my favourites that Bristol town. Not least of all because I can park really close to it in anticipation of an Irish exit but also because it rocks a decent sound system and capable-eared engineers who get it just right.
I had discovered Calva Louise by stupid accident – I say that because – I was once a subsciber of Flying Vinyl, back in my days of extravegent wealth but it got to a point where they were stacking up unlistened to because I couldn’t be bothered to change my turntable speed (it’s a Rega thing) when I finally came to sort through them I stumbled upon the Calva 7″ by pure chance and put it on. I was blown away by the zany, turbo-charged galactic-art-attack-pop-punk-kicking-over-neon-paint-tins-laser-quest-rebellion-wave that exploded from my speakers.
Since then I’ve listened to the album Rhinoceros about a million times and was overjoyed by the release of The Trial (not least of all because Kafkha is an under-used resource when it comes to song subjects but also because we now share the commonality of having a tune that’s about a court room drama!
The live show offered much of their later catalogue and mostly unfamiliar to my slow-to-the-mark ears but I was enthrawled nontheless. This beautiful triad of young, talented beings let us have it! I don’t normally remark on the former, but something about the first band we’ve seen in a while being young, energetic, attractive and endlessly talented just supercharged the whole experience. Each and every tune was an attention grabbing banger that compressed an album worth of musical abilities into about 3.5 minutes. Songs in Spanish reminded us that there’s a whole world out there, not just our living rooms. The combination of (as Mitch puts it) bubble-grunge and floor filling electronic bass riddims filled our musical senses to the brim. Vocals ranging from sweet, innocuous chirps into gutteral, window-breaking screams as if it were a Tesla in a time-trial promised us maximum tinnitus tribulations. Which we deserved and needed.
I swear if one of their later tunes isn’t used in a debauched neon-glaring nightclub scene in a movie it’ll be a terrible movie and an opportunity wasted. There was a Rob Zombie dancing kinda sleeze which I think was responsible for sending the uncertain audience into a wonderful dance frenzy – SPIN CYCLE engaged. I say uncertain not towards the music but rather the new venue etiquette of this post-covid ‘don’t touch me world’ – A person very near me was making wonderful shapes but I did fret that their endless hair might just slap us in the face. Is that even allowed?
Camino was track of the night for The Duchess, featuring a wonderful collaboration with someone I don’t know (sorry if you read this please let me know!), for me, bit of a cop out but all of them… banger after banger. Take the time to explore their music videos because all of their animation is in house and created by band singer Jess Allanic – Their socia media feeds are a testement to how hard they work and the level of awesome work that they produce. It’s worthy of laudation.
To summarise, the night could have been sweatier but where restrictions restricted the music more than made up for it by transporting us, in our mind brains to the sweatiest dancefloor we could find and losing control like there was nothing around us, no viruses, no arrows, no hand sanitizer. It was magical, a magical reminder that bands are still out there grinding and working hard to provide us, the humble germ ridden peasants with unforgetable, intense music that we don’t have the capacity to love enough. Music that will pep you up and keep you going, music that supercharges you no matter what. Music that accompanies any task that needs doing. Energy giving music. Music that sounds like it appreciates you for listening. That’s rare and that’s beautiful.