At the end of a long journey, finally heading home is what it’s all about. You’re knackered and ready to put your feet up, of course, but there’s something about being in familiar surroundings, among people you know, that gives you the energy for that final stretch.
By the time they reach the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds’ Menace Beach are at the end of their tour. Here, among friends in a venue they love, they are determined to end things with a bang. Bringing with them two of the best new Leeds bands (plus one Derby outlier), the night feels like a celebration of everything this musical city still has to offer decades later.
The outlier in this case is Derby’s Pet Crow who take to the stage in front of a few hardy early birds (and the three other bands out in support). Not afraid to add more cowbell, the groovy garage rock foursome are exactly what you need from a support band – fun, frenetic and full of verve. The latecomers will be kicking themselves they missed it.
The first of the three Leeds bands, Drahla, don’t have much in the way of releases in the wider world but have been relentlessly gigging ever since they formed. Their menacing Ought-meets-Sonic Youth post-punk is a far cry from Pet Crow’s bouncy lo-fi rock, all scuzzy riffs and driving bass lines. Bassist/guitarist Rob Riggs wheels around the stage like a man possessed, while Luciel Brown’s sinister vocals add a haunting malevolence to the sound.
If Drahla are the shadows in the dark, Bruising are the shining lights. Whether it’s the sugary sweet Valentine’s Day single ‘What It Feels Like’ or the fuzzy fun of ‘Emo Friends’, Bruising are a band that guarantee a good time. Naomi Baguley playful vocals are the perfect accompaniment to the bright guitar riffs and catchy hooks. The feel good factor is in full effect by the time the foursome leave the stage.
The crowd twisted and turned through the grooves of Pet Crow, the darkness of Drahla and the exuberance of Bruising, Menace Beach’s brand of psychedelic occult oddity seemed a fitting way to close things out.
From the nightmare nursery rhyme of ‘Maybe We’ll Drown’ to the woozy psychedelia of ‘Can’t Get A Haircut’, they certainly deliver. Ryan Needham and Liza Violet’s wry humour and ear for insanely catchy hooks is on full display, especially on opening song ‘Give Blood’ as Needham laments, “Why do you always sing about death?”
Mostly rocketing through tracks from their second album ‘Lemon Memory’, sharpened to a fine point and wielded with precision, we’re also treated to a few old favourites including the sweet ‘Tastes Like Medicine’, which is given a little extra bite here.
Cool, calm and collected, Menace Beach came with cursed lemons and made lemonade, ready to give their hometown crowd a show. And boy did they.