The Futureheads @ Rescue Rooms 01/06/19
Mid-2000’s indie breakouts The Futureheads brought a tightly performed set of generally entertaining heady indie rock jams to Rescue Rooms this Saturday, albeit somewhat marred by muddy and bizarre mixing decisions. Crunch pop upstarts Fatherson and exciting post-punk newcomers The Rain Age (formally Shiftwork) supported.
The Futureheads occupy a weird space in 2000’s indie-sphere. Never reaching the same heights of popularity as many of their stylistic contemporaries (ala Franz Ferdinand & Bloc Party) while simultaneously also being swallowed up by the same British music journalism hype machine that contributed to those bands extremely short commercial shelf life. The NME declared their cover of Kate Bush’s classic ‘Hounds of Love’ the best song of 2005 which would’ve been the kiss of death for most British 2000’s indie bands, however impressively The Futureheads have managed to keep plugging away while sticking to their artistic and stylistic guns for five albums and a brief hiatus, albeit it to slightly diminishing financial and critical returns.
At this point, The Futureheads are inarguably indie veterans, although the finesse and skill required to play their most spidery material means they could’ve probably played the current iterations of many of their scenic contemporaries under the table when they first started off back in 2003. This was one of the most immediately striking qualities of the band – how immensely confident they sounded and appeared with material they haven’t performed live since 2013. There was nigh a moment a tricky four-part vocal harmony or a mind-bogglingly arrhythmic guitar line got flubbed or a few bum notes managed to slip into their sweet indie rock pep. Each song was beautifully tight and highly wound to the point the whole show felt ready to pop at any moment in a captivating way.
The obvious hardest hitters were the bands classic singles off their revered first album. Tracks like ‘Decent Days and Nights’ and ‘Meantime’ remain real gems of artsy mid-2000s, indie rock with choruses that sparkle with watertight structures that only fared better in the live environment, adding a communal charm to their sing along ‘woah-oh’s’ aided by a particularly passionate, mostly middle-aged Rescue Rooms crowd. There was actually a mosh at one point, something I would not have been able to picture from the band’s interlocking paranoid rhythms and generally clean indie sound. There were a few lulls in the setlist as the band explored some of their latter-day tunes, but even then the palpable passion from the crowd and intense performances from the band kept the mood up. Yes, the Kate Bush cover was good, obviously.
The one unfortunate mar on an otherwise extremely fun set actually wasn’t the bands fault at all. The whole set had a bizarrely blown out bass-heavy sound seeming like someone left all the gain up on all the amps and decided it’d be easier to just turn everything else up to 11 to suit. The result sometimes swallowed up the bands dynamics and took many of the finer details and melodies out of their sound which was a real shame for such a talented and tight group. This is not the kind of music that works brilliantly with lots of distortion slathered on, but aside from these questionable mixing choices this was an incredibly passionate and fun gig