The Babies, Paws and Schnapps - Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 19 Mar 2011
New York lo-fi indie kids provided with able support from local acts
Imposing concrete pillars aside, Stereo continues to ‘cement’ (oh yes, we did) its position as one of Glasgow’s best basement venues, and a good place to seek musical refuge in the face of yet another cold Saturday night in the city. First up, local four-piece Schnapps blend elements of early R.E.M. — evident mostly in frontman Jnr. Crawford’s vibrant, Stipe-esque vocal delivery – with a biting rockabilly groove to great effect. Not every song is a head-turner or indeed, a foot-tapper, but when it works, it’s a lot of fun – the danceable ‘Get Back On It’ is a prime example.
Next up, Paws – a trio of prominent Glasgow punk-rock kids, who have supported just about every US indie act to come barging through the city (Wavves, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, No Age, to namedrop a few) – deliver the mixture of vigour and raucous noise that has so far served them well. Fresh off the back of launching their mermaid-themed self-released EP, My Parents Said We Can’t See Each Other Anymore … earlier in the month, their set is both confidently executed and immediately commands attention. Bookended by searing feedback, their collection of high-energy, brazen guitar-pop jolts a bit of life into the basement’s murky depths and has little trouble hammering a few smiles onto the crowd.
The bar is raised for The Babies then, but the headliners have a joint-ace up their sleeves, combining the songwriting talents of two of Brooklyn’s finest recent exports — being fronted by both Woods bassist, Kevin Morby, and Vivian Girls’ guitarist/vocalist, Cassie Ramone. Fresh off the back of releasing their self-titled debut LP, the resulting concoction is one of intricate pop sensibility and ramshackle, knee-slapping energy. Mixing shades of folk and country with welcome slabs of crusty distortion and beautifully simple melody, live, the tunes on offer come thick and fast and are met with near-constant waves of head-bobbing approval. As anyone familiar with any of the band’s previous endeavours will no doubt testify, the uncleansed lo-fi approach is still very much in effect with The Babies, lending songs like ‘Run Me Over’ and ‘Breaking The Law' a rough-hewn charm, and in the case of Ramone’s lead spots, a sort of unavoidable, snotty charisma.