Curb + Swerve + Noir + ANiMA + Only Shadows, The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham 10/04/14

Curb 1
Curb
Cramming five bands into a small venue on a Thursday night is no mean feat, but that’s exactly what Killr Punx managed to do last week, culminating in co-headline sets from local favourites Curb and Swerve.
Only Shadows
Only Shadows
Paying no heed to the gap between them and the crowd huddled to the back of the room, Only Shadows launched into their set with a smile. Infectious pop-infused choruses, rocking riffs, and smoothly gliding vocals washed through the venue with an ease that was all but too pleasant. They might’ve lacked the edge of the following bands, but as they kickstarted the show with their soaring melodies, no one had the heart to find that a fault.
ANiMA
ANiMA
Rawer and heavier than any band on the bill, ANiMA instantly closed the gap between the stage and those gathered as frontman Dan Sheridan placed his microphone in the centre of the floor. Energetic to an extreme, the rock quartet’s distinctive sound may have earned them praise elsewhere, but here it seemed to pass the crowd by. Leaving both raised eyebrows and excited comments in their wake, they showed they know how to divide as well as conquer.
noir
Noir
Noir set out to keep the dream alive with their last show in their current guise, and if ever a group were to bring it on down and go out with a bang, it’d be this band. They’ve skirted the margins of the local scene, growing in popularity little by little, but their performance here showcased a band practically a force of nature. Frontman George Cooke embodied the rock ‘n’ roll star persona, bounding around the stage with an endless energy, backed by a wall of sound so supersonic it left even the most sober of attendees intoxicated. It seems certain that when these guys do return, it’ll be as something very special indeed. We wish the next phase could be here now, lads.
Swerve
Swerve
Swerve took their co-headline slot in their stride. With their frontman decked out in shades and an ethnic shirt, the four-piece powered through their tightly honed set without pause. Playing their earliest material alongside yet-to-be-released tracks (and including a made-over version of ‘The Ballad’ – a track previously sworn out of their set), the group made evident just why they’re becoming a force to be reckoned with. Energetic solos, awe-striking drum riffs, and power slides all graced the stage, before closing track ‘Static’ left the room fully satisfied.
Curb 2
Curb
Not to be outdone, Curb took up the pace with their cataclysmic closing set. Released tracks ‘So High’ and ‘How Are You Now’ continue to prove themselves with the bands crowds, but it’s their new material that really showcases their strength. Debuting a song they wrote only the weekend before, along with a number of other new tracks, the groups effortlessly cool demeanour showcases a band with no sign of slowing down. Featuring maraca and tambourine contributions from the crowd, and a climax that saw part of the drum kit trashed as the band flew into it and each other, it’s easy to see why this band have been flaring up so many radars.
Photographs by Rob Hadley