Live Reviews

Fist City / Cousins – Shacklewell Arms

Fist City / Cousins
Shacklewell Arms


Canadian bands have always delivered great underground punk music, from the recent slamming sounds of Fucked Up through to the old guard of SNFU and DOA, they just seem have a knack of digging out some classic stuff and bringing something beautiful to the scene.

Last night, Alberta rippers Fist City rolled into town for their debut London show over East and delivered an absolute treat to the lucky few who witnessed their balls-out, garage fueled surf attack. From the opening track ‘Endless Bummer‘ to their epic version of Devo’s ‘Uncontrollable Urge’, (video below) the quartet packed massive amounts energetic punk into their 30 minute set and blew the roof off.


Fronted by Keir Griffiths on guitar and vocals, Fist City’s overall sound is trashy, powerful and underlined with a surf twang that invites a feel good factor on par with the best of them. We are talking the cheekiness of the Black Lips and Fidlar, riffs that would rival Rites of Spring, all delivered with a confident presence that brings their live work directly into your face.

This is not a band that plays a show and doesn’t get involved. These guys shake and move to the banging sound of Ryan Grieve’s pounding drums. Griffiths threw his guitar onto the stage and then threw himself into the audience, pulsating and gyrating like a woman on fire in a sandpit. His mic was hurled into the open jaws of the lucky few watching, whilst bassist Lindsay Munro and guitarist Evan Van Reekum kept the rolling pace flowing from the stage. Born a girl and now a man following gender reassignment, Keir stomped the shit out of every inch of space between those surrounding walls and left the onlookers in awe.

This band are special and they don’t come around that often, so look out for them on your travels and pick up their album ‘It’s 1983, Grow Up‘ whilst there’s still vinyl available.


Headliners Cousins followed this carnage well and put on a good show. They hail from Halifax made up of guitarist/singer Aaron Mangle and drummer Leigh Dotey. The duo play rock and roll at each other with thunderous riffage. Their stripped down presence hails a sound as loud and as finely perfected to any four piece. Dotey’s rolling drum assault does a grand job of keeping Mangle’s deep garage swagger fulfilled and made this evening one of the most enjoyable this year.

Both bands are playing at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton this weekend alongside a bunch of other fine Canadian acts down there. If you find yourself on the beach, do yourself a favour and seek these two out.




Live Reviews

Mazes – Live

The Shacklewell Arms

The DIY indie rock scene of the 1990s has experienced a slight revival over the past year in the UK. Both Male Bonding and Yuck’s opening album efforts have generally been well received in the British music press as well as across the pond in the U.S. London-via-Manchester four-piece Mazes are hoping for the same as they mimic their British compadres with debut album A Thousand Heys. The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston is the band’s final UK show before they embark on a full U.S. tour with White Denim.

Despite early hiccups with the venue’s experimental red lighting (yes, I’m as puzzled as you are) during the band’s opening couple of songs, Mazes’ set finally ignites with the infectious ‘Most Days’. Evident homages to Stephen Malkmus are clear with Jack Cooper’s fun and playful yells of “I never wanna get out of my bed, no way” in ‘No Way’.

This combined with alternative rock riffs from Jarin Tabata in the mould of Dinosaur Jr., The Lemonheads and Fountains of Wayne add substance to their sound and ensure that the quartet’s songs are not just exhausted Pavement pastiches.The small crowd remain in high spirits after ‘Bowie Knives’ which challenges DIY indie rock stereotypes with its organised structure, as a result the song boasts emphatic Weezer-like melody.

Inevitably, the group move towards power pop territory in ‘Surf Tag / Maths Tag’ with Cooper providing flashbacks of The Beatles entrance to JFK airport in 1964. The final song of the evening ‘Summer Hits or J+J Don’t Like’ is a rousing ending to a set from a band that was only making cassette recordings of their material two years ago. The DIY revivalists’ nostalgic farewell is proof that they are certainly well suited for bigger and better things, especially in college rock circles across the States.

Alex Penge.