It’s pissing it down and we’re in the hazy throes of a three day hangover. The prospect of being thrown around in a post-punk mosh pit actually makes me pretty queasy. Still, I’d managed to somehow blag my way into getting free tickets and it felt pretty gratuitous to complain about going after spending the past 18 months practically gagging for live music.
We were going to see The Lounge Society in Newcastle. Originating from West Yorkshire, the band is firmly part of the whole post-Brexit-punk-rock-experimental-noise scene emerging at the moment. Despite their rural beginnings, their music is just as gritty as any city-based band. The raw brutality of their local geography is a source of inspiration, celebrated in their sound and cover art.
We arrive at Head of Steam and within seconds my hungover anxieties are put to rest. This is perfect. A dark, peeling, damp low-ceilinged basement. There are about 40 people here – mostly bearded middle-aged types with tote bags clutching a beer. My mate and I shoot each other a smile of relief.
Fehlt, the support band are on as we come in. They’re pretty dark and krautrock-y. Tracks like ‘Closure’ feature a deepening recurring baseline that inspire rhythmic nodding and tapping from the crowd. They project fragmented dystopian and brutalist visuals onto the back wall. Originating from Leeds, their sound is moody and urban. They’re an obvious choice for a support act.
By the time The Lounge Society begin their set the fairy lights and stage sign behind them have fallen off the wall leaving nothing but bits of duct tape in the way of stage design. Their stage presence is frantic to say the least. The lead, Cameron Davey, looks emaciated in a beaten oversized Adidas t-shirt he looks like he just found. He periodically takes off his guitar and balances it on his head as he erratically paces up and down the tiny stage. The bass player seems to switch instruments every few minutes. The drummer profusely sweats for the entire set.
Like a lot of the bands emerging out of the post-punk scene and Dan Carey’s Speedy Wunderground label, the bands’ songs are politically loaded without being overly evangelical. Tracks like ‘Burn the Heather’, performed with Cameron Davey’s chronic panic-stricken agitation, attack the bloodsport ritual of local landowners burning the heather on the Yorkshire moors to shoot grouse in a way that makes you want to head-bang and tap your feet in solidarity.
Whilst performing ‘Cain’s Heresy’, Davey begins striking his head with clenched fists as he screeches into the mic, ‘poisonous ideals on the screen breed a vision way of thinking off the screen’. This is my favourite of their tracks – angsty and energetic with a punching baseline and rolling drums. I read the band describe the song as a “portrait of a world we’re headed to – where consumers lie sedated while ‘This Week’s Hot Trend’ and ‘101 Style Tips For Summer’ are forced down their throats by gloved hands.” I wouldn’t say The Lounge Society were politically instructive, but their lyrics are definitely relevant and their sound is intentionally restless. I find myself nodding to their message in agreement, their political outrage contagious.
They debut their new release ‘Last Breath’ and can’t remember when it comes out – (‘I’ve got no idea what day it is anymore to be honest’ Davey mutters awkwardly into the microphone after being corrected by someone in the crowd).
By the time they stumble off stage at the end of the gig I no longer feel groggy and hungover, but surprisingly inspired. I lose sight of them as they blend into the crowd. There’s not much that differentiates them from the audience and I admire that. The Lounge Society are quietly comfortable in just letting their music speak for itself.
Featured Image: Piran Aston