The Horrors + Crystal Castles + These New Puritans + Ulterior
NME Awards Show @
Welcome to one of the few genuinely decent line-ups on the never-ending Wagnerian nightmare that is the NME Awards Shows, the most ridiculous, turgid, self-serving piece of marketing guff since, well, the NME Awards. Sadly, Ulterior’s performance will be omitted from this review because nobody will ever convince me that the phrase ‘doors open at 5.30pm’ displays any grasp of logical reasoning. This is a real shame, because Ulterior’s Suicide-shagging-William-Reid industrial noise-drone is far too exciting to miss. Four hours of adverts for Shockwaves, Skins and Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong (a pox on that band for eating into my word count) is more than any creature equipped with opposable thumbs can bear.
These New Puritans capitalise on what must be their biggest show to date, their sound becoming truly enormous propelled by those hip hop drums and nauseating low-frequency basslines. Jack Barnett has apparently come dressed as a Norman swan in chainmail tunic of plastic feathers, his bowl cut balanced precariously on a bird-like neck. A genuinely beguiling frontman, he at least seems to be having fun – Sophie sullenly pokes around on synths, scratching her neck and fighting to stay awake through their grimy, angular onslaught. It’s genius.
The Astoria ain’t quite right for Crystal Castles dirrrty club aesthetic, but that doesn’t stop the half-term rave kids’ sugar rush as they go batshit crazy for Alice’s winged-insect-trapped-in-a-bottle stage moves. Still, the deliciously warped malignancy of ‘Alice Practice’ and fizzing sodapop electro of ‘Air War’ stand out a mile above the samey bleeps of the non-singles, which doesn’t bode well for their upcoming album.
The Horrors return to headline the
At 9.30pm the whole shebang is brought to an untimely close. The crowd scratch their heads. It’s unsettling, but at least there’s time for a pint before the tube closes.