Upstairs at the Garage
11 February 2011
First published in Loud And Quiet. FYI, I didn't want to bring up the girlfriend thing, but it just couldn't be ignored. And then I saw our humble frontman's bashful guest appearance on OMG and wished I'd actually got my claws out.
With high-waisted wide trousers and spivvish greasy locks, Tom from S.C.U.M. is like Christmas-come-early for uninspired Topman designers. No wonder he's attracted a certain 'celeb' girlfriend, whose 100,000 Twitter followers must be delighted to receive daily photo updates of their budding love story.
Is that unfair? I wish I could say so, but tonight S.C.U.M. are thoroughly failing to live up to their early potential, when they took their performance cues from the alienation-as-spectacle style of Suicide or ATR, and also failing to sound anywhere near as good as they do on record.
Having been on the scene a couple of years they've now smoothed off the abrasive noisenik prickliness of their early shows, back when they were part of a mini-zeitgeist of London bands associated with Offset festival, like O Children and the late Ipso Facto.
Heck, this gig is even part of an HMV-sponsored series, Next Big Thing (oh, the irony). Instead we get a performance that's very nearly commercially viable, but all the more boring for it, with the detail and atmosphere of the recorded material impossible to discern in this sterile mishmash of New Wave synth and industrial rhythms, while Tom's almost vaudeville vocals seem lost in the mix entirely.