Eagulls were all hugs when I saw them sitting drinking PBRs at the picnic bench outside Vancouver’s small Media Club. It was their first visit to town but not our first time meeting. Last I saw the Leeds’ five piece, drummer Henry Rudell was asleep on the floor of the aiport of Austin, Texas and the band were looking more than a bit knackered after playing something like 11 gigs during five days of SXSW, and I’d seen them at two. “Next time,” bassist Tom Green, says wistfully, “maybe we can just do one or two.”
But this was their first time to Vancouver and propping up the front row was bunch of us older punk afficionados. Old in the that some of us were actually around for the Jam and the Clash, though most of us (me) were not so old to have ever seen them. It wasn’t a packed show, though rumblings had come up from the south and o’er the pond, and there were more than a few curious hipsters waiting to check out Leeds’ finest. A few weeks’ later they’d get an even bigger leg up in Canada – when their (and my) Toronto friends, METZ, had them added to a big bill at a NXNE festival gig.
But before that, irritation. Partway through our show, Singer George Mitchell began bemoaning how things weren’t sounding right, exasperated at guitar problems. But it was hard for us to tell, really, for Eagulls play with a muddy ferociousness that can make it difficult to hear anything except a frantic attack. But still, HE was the one stage hearing something. Or lack of something. Goldy swapped out his guitar, while other guitarist Liam ploughed onward. And while HE was pissed off, WE were going slowly deaf. ”Still NERVE ENDINGS won’t die/Come find that out” he dared us in “Nerve Endings”, a song typical of the band’s fab new-wave-Cure-meets-Clash clash. “Amber Veins” Mitchell also spat repeatedly, and we nodded frantically through the dark twistiness of “Tough Luck” – all off of their excellent 2013 self-titled debut. Despite the fact that Mitchell often looks like he’d rather be anywhere else, draping his voice over a mic stand with a weird combination of force and couldn’t-give-a-fuckness, the combination of that attitude, and the band’s sledgehammering, reminded everyone in the room that it’s been a while since we’ve seen an ok UK punk band.
Still, “Tough Luck” was clearly what Mitchell thought the band were having because just four days later, he would throw his teddies out of the cot in Denver, rant about equipment failure, leave the show and his band to soldier on without him.
But for us, Eagulls’ Vancouver debut was perfectly fine. “You play so fucking fast” we later say to the down-picking bassist, Green. “Really?” he replied. “I thought I was playing slow tonight.” Really? We replied in return. We’d hate to see you playing fast. Or maybe we’d love to. Either way, welcome to Canada (not Hotel California), Eagulls. \m/
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