The Twilight Sad come on to the stage with no small amount of intent. They seem like a band with something serious they need to get off their chest. We wait for wailings and gnashings of teeth which never quite materialise in a short, loud, earnest, somewhat self-satisfied set.
They sport a nice aesthetic, all saggy tight black jeans tucked into combat boots with guitarist in handlebar moustache and check shirt to match 80% of the male members of the audience. Launching into their first song with abandon, their passionate singer belts out inaudible lyrics over a bitey bass and pounding driven drums. The singer clearly feels strongly about whatever it is he’s singing about as he’s on his knees and gurning within about 23 seconds, although I cannot make out a word of it and it does seem a trifle early in the set to be quite so affected. The Liquid Rooms has always suffered from very bad sound so I shifted myself from the front of the stage to the back, hoping things would level out and become, well, better. I cannot say it helped. The earnest singer spasmodically moves in a way that was all poetry in Ian Curtis, is a bit silly looking in his many imitators.
While it seems there must be long thought out and deeply personal lyrics issuing from the young man at the microphone it is impossible to make any of them out amongst the dirge-like relentless noise of the rhythm section. I mean no disrespect to a band that are clearly well rehearsed and play tightly with one another, as an uninformed observer I watched patiently waiting for the hook, the perfect melody or strutting bass line that would convert me to the sound. It never came.
I am sure there will be those who will find the fourteenth fret slow motion whammy bar manipulations of the guitarist enticing and will hear something from the keyboardist that I just couldn’t pick up, but for me it never quite clicked. There are ethereal moments to be had for sure in this bands performance. I think the singer is best when nearly A-cappella over some wailing purple noise in their penultimate song, but as soon as I was beginning to warm slightly to this awkward, noisy group they announced their last song and left, after 45 minutes at best. I was quite honestly, glad it was over, but had I been a fan I would have been disappointed that my money bought such a perfunctory and staid performance.