Skaters | Live Review

Skaters @ Exchange, Bristol. 27.02.14.

It’s classic Skaters – fast, full of hooks and without pause for breath.

In the grotty basement of the Exchange, great things are about to happen.

We’re led down the stairs into the dungeons of the venue and wait for main support band Drowners to emerge from the crowd. The ghost of the Exchange’s past has appeared in the form of an over-friendly guy who smells of weed and dirt, but the 100 capacity crowd doesn’t seem to care too much and there’s a genuine buzz of Skaters-induced excitement among the varied audience members.

Drowners play an energetic set of impossibly brilliant short-but-sweet jangly guitar tunes that convinces me to go home and purchase everything they’ve released so far. The Smiths influence is obvious, especially on tracks like ‘Unzip Your Harrington’ – all Marr-like guitar and witty lyrics. Someone shouts something derogatory about 2005 being over, but charming, leather-clad singer Matt Hitt just dedicates a song to his parents in the crowd, and carries on with his indie masterpieces.

After to-ing and fro-ing from the crowd to the stage, Skaters finally stay put with their instruments 30 minutes behind schedule. All this means is the crowd are 30 times more excited.

It’s the first night of the tour, and with their debut ‘Manhattan’ behind them, they jump straight into first track, rebellious ‘One Of Us’. It sounds aptly like it could soundtrack a mental night out. Another album track, ‘Symptomatic’, follows and my worries that the release of the debut might negatively draw out the live show are dashed – it’s what the old shows were missing. It’s classic Skaters – fast, full of hooks and without pause for breath. Released this week, the new material is as well-received as the old favourites. It’s the kind of music you can enjoy live even if you don’t know it.

‘Deadbolt’ is next, a classic 100mph Skaters song. It sounds like The Vines with a makeover, and as singer Michael Ian Cummings yells gimme one more try it’s like a modern day ride with me. Madness descends as they follow album track ‘To Be Young In NYC’ with a song we “might know”. The whole place is a moshpit as Skaters’ defining single ‘I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)’ drops. Everyone is singing, and the band tease the crowd by holding back the last chorus, which just adds to the fun.

The band tell us that ‘Manhattan’ hasn’t gone down well with critics, but nothing contradicts this like latest single ‘Miss Teen Massachusetts’ with its siren guitars and explosive chorus. It makes for a brilliant crowd singalong and although like most of Skaters’ other material it’s a little derivative, it’s a formula that works and it’s even better live than it is on record. Plus, Drowners’ Matt Hitt was crowd surfing the whole time and it was brilliant to see.

After old classic ‘Schemers’, the band walk offstage and the crowd aren’t ready to let them go, demanding another song. They reappear, saying “You guys really meant that, so you’d better stay with us!” as if anyone would leave at this point. Michael Ian Cummings crowdsurfs his way through the song and returns gracefully to the stage for the end to thank everyone with real admiration. Sweaty and exhausted, they couldn’t have kicked off the tour any better.

Watch the video for ‘I Wanna Dance’ right here:

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