Time to revisit the only saw on my Euro trip. When I landed in London, I saw that Palma Violets already made the cover of the NME. The cover said "High Times With the Best New Band in Britain". Just like previous British bands like Arctic Monkeys, Ting Tings and Vaccines, the London band have been thrusted into the spotlight only after a few posted demos and handful of gigs. Since they've been playing earlier this year, they've had a single produced by Steve Mackey, Nick Cave attended a gig and they hired the management team behind Sigur Ros and Fanfarlo to guide them. So seeing them now on this upswing before they play bigger venues or hit the U.S. shouldn't be missed.
Thus, I found myself at a small venue a block off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh two Mondays ago.
Their set was thirty minutes of blistering 60s garage rock meets jangly British rock in a tightly wound ball of youthful exuberance, sweat and shouts. It was one of those gigs where it was over so fast because everyone was having a good time and the songs came quickly. They are a raucous live band, playing fast, loud and loose. Their bassist is the ringleader of their live show -- shouting at the crowd, grabbing hands, playing in the crowd or on top of them and general mayhem. By the end of the night, he was hugging everybody around him.
I loved the whole thing. When I wrote about them before, I said they reminded me of the Black Lips for their classic 60s garage sound. Now that I've seen them live, they are kind of sort of in the vein in that the crowd gets into it and the band responds in part. It wasn't completely out of control, but it was good spirits when small crowd was moshing away. Sonically, they owe more to the Clash, Buzzcocks and all the great British rock bands of the early 80s. By the end, all the acts (openers were local acts Childhood and Quiet as a Mouse) got on stage for some made up song and drum kits were knocked over. When the lights came up, I looked at my watch and it was 9:30. You see, that's when shows should end, so then you can still go out or go home at a normal time.
They started with a cover of the surf rock classic "California Sun", which made me think that they were going to have to pad out their gig with covers to make up for the fact that only have a few songs. Not the case, they have tunes called "Rattlesnake Highway", "14", "Tom the Drum", "I've Been Thinking" and "Last of the Summer Wine", the B-side that Mackey produce. "Best of Friends" is their smashing debut single that's gotten all the attention with the shout out chorus.
There really isn't any doubt that Palma Violets will be next big thing out of the UK, if they aren't already. I do think it's smart of them to keep things low key for now -- playing small venues, one single, not that much promotion out there. Talking with the boys afterwords, they do plan on sneaking into the states by end of the year for some low-key gigs. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.
As for the Electric Circus ... it smelled like a circus at times with the rancid bathroom. It's a tiny club which most of the space is dedicated towards tables and couches to the back and side. The odd thing about it, big lit wax candles all over the place.