Live Review: Coves

29th May - Power Lunches Arts Cafe, Dalston

Cafe? More like a sweatlodge! Exactly how live music ought to be enjoyed (festivals aside perhaps) - Two or three dozen bodies shoehorned into a venue the size of someone's garage, utter darkness and broiling temperatures. Absolutely wonderful - no wonder the bar ran dry.

Sometimes you walk into a place and you know you're going to have a good night. The signs were there for me from the start at Dalston as while waiting for a first beer I spotted 2 lone box-set / deluxe-edition albums amongst the vinyl stacked behind the bar - Sonic Youth's Goo and Daydream Nation. So yes, I was sold right from the beginning. And it was hot, damn hot - guy in orange robes bursting into flames kinda hot. Perfect environment to experience three bands celebrating the release of Coves' debut EP.

First up came Modern Borders, a London-based guitar vs. elecronica duo who did really well to set things going. With a sound that comes off at first as along the lines of antipodean electropop (think Cut Copy) but spaced out and chilled with xx-ish reverbed up Telecaster action - It's a nifty mix, audience appreciated the tunes and hints of a more dancier beats slipped in on one number that was probably my favourite, moving from 'Standing On The Edge Of Getting It On' to actually getting it on, with a digital Hooky somewhere in the ether. With the bass/beats end filled out a tad I'm sure Modern Borders could get pretty epic.

New Zealanders She's So Rad took up the gavel next, another guitar/electro duo but coming from a totally different angle. Again, another good sign for me - Jeremy Toy sporting an obscure Sonic Youth T-Shirt I've never seen before and he with the electro side of the band (Anji Sami) threw out a belter of a short set. Take the soundwall sound of Kevin Shields at his best and meld it to a fat bottom end that wouldn't go amiss on an E'ed up Primal Scream record and you have the sort of thing produced by She's So Rad. I was really impressed - When you hybridise feedback/noise and serious beats, and get it right, something truly phenomenal happens - and for these two, that was exactly the case. Latest single Circles finished up their set and I was left wondering when I can next see these peeps play, but also why they have such an odd name - I decided however to pronounce it to myself more along the lines of the name of the storyteller from 'Arabian Nights' and was much happier.

Coves I'd first seen earlier this year opening for Hooray for Earth in Hoxton and had at the time noted "Awesome - must see again at next available opportunity", so this gig (the launch for the Cast A Shadow EP - out via Cross Keys Records as of this week) was most welcome indeed, the night proving Leamington's finest are just plain electric live.

Kicking off with Run With Me the assembled crowd became decidedly interested before the gremlins attacked briefly, an "Everybody talk amongst yourselves" moment, then launched straight into a blistering version or Cast A Shadow that without a doubt was the highlight of the evening- just listen to the reaction on the recording ... It's such a bloody excellent tune! and the response was hugely enthusiastic. I've never heard a bunch of pressure-cooked sardines make such a noise before.

Next up, two tracks from Coves Demo-EP, the J&MC-ish Honeybee and Here Comes Your Light both of which were spot-on before a more mellowy harmonic number that I'd not heard before, but showed a side to Coves that was unexpected and a pleasant surprise. Fall Out Of Love, another new one from the debut EP brought back the crunch and then out with the megaphone and on into No Ladder (one more example of a fantastically smoothly done hooky tune) which closed up Coves set for the night. On came the PA (Funkadelic seeming somehow perfectly placed) and a lot of happy people trailed out for a smoke and to take a chance on a pitifully emptied beer fridge.

All in all - a great little venue and an absolutely wicked night out - each band upping the ante by an order of magnitude, as the present gig-goers gradually melted into red-striped pools of joy. The only criticism I could possibly level would be that Coves need more songs! But, seeing as they've only actually been around as a band for eight months (thanks John for pointing that out) it's a forgiveable failing... But it won't be forever!