LIVE REVIEW: Cola, Blue Bendy, Lots of Hands @ Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland (28.08.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Cola

Sometimes dubbed as post-Brexitcore, the UK’s recent swell of post-punk acts seems to be on a steady downfall as the main players of the genre are diversifying their sound; black midi going prog, BCNR going chamber pop, Fontaines DC going Goth. 

Post-punk is not a UK exclusive genre however and an example of an act from across the water delving into the brutal and aggressive soundscape is Canadian band, Cola.

The band are a new venture for ex-Ought frontperson Tim Darcy, and this new sound blends both post-punk and indie rock together. This fusion of genres should work really well, but instead it creates a weird dynamic where the tracks that should’ve been punchy felt weak, and the tracks that should’ve been more rhythmic feel stilted. These cracks were shown all the way from the second song So Excited, and in a live setting the song lacked the dynamism that it really needed.

That’s not to say some songs didn’t hit hard. At Pace had a really gentle riff-driven opening that then is brought up to 11 with a really funky bass line that moulded the song and gave it an edge that made the song feel powerful and commanding.

Despite the occasional outlier, the energy in the room still felt flat, as we were all planted like bollards. Something that could’ve easily been rectified if the headliner had any sort of stage presence. However, when the band found their stride, even for a moment, they were pretty good. The night’s two support acts, Blue Bendy and Lots of Hands, made more of an impression. London-originating Blue Bendy played as a reduced ensemble, yet still managed to have the most prominent stage presence of the three acts. The frontperson meandered around the stage while doing a now popular conversational style performance to an array of truly aggressive and violent instrumentation. Their songs had that depth that I wanted from Cola, annihilating the exposed brick work of Pop Recs with their high-tempo kick drums and bass lines.

But my favourite set of the night came from Newcastle-based opener Lots of Hands. The local band performed with an interesting selection of instruments including a flute and a saxophone, and their performance was very engaging, with the depth one would expect from the instruments on display, hard-hitting kicks and playful riffs, washed over by a layer of reverb. Once the duvet of reverb settled the band pushed their dynamics even more, and the standout tracks were the ones that used the reverb and feedback to create a mellow sonic environment.

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