“Culture Abuse” are one of my favourite new finds this year.
In the pursuit of new venues /experience visited Rough trade East near Spitalfields to see “Culture Abuse” promoting their second album “Bay Dream”. Last saw these guys supporting “The Bronx” and wanted to hear more.
What a great intimate place to see a band, although its perched amongst the racks of CD’s which is slightly weird. With no beer and no toilets again it was a refreshing novelty in a way.
The band played for free so I did feel obliged to buy the new album so this is partly an album review as well as the live experience. Set list (courtesy of setlist.fm) was
- Don’t Worry
- So Busted
- Dream On
- Calm E
- Rats in the Walls
- Police on My Back The Equalscover)
- Peace on Earth
- Turn It Off
The singer spent the whole 50 minute set in the crowd. I spent the whole 50 minute set literally three feet from his face. Such proximity can be a little embarrassing (when you’re in your 50’s), especially when your encouraged to sing along and don’t know the words, unlike the bodies next to you.
I have to say I do like these guys who I feel would have loved to have been playing back in the original punk days. They are trying to retain that punk ethic, doing a great cover of the “Clash’s” version of “Police on my back” originally recorded by the “Equals”.
They have fun taking the pee out of each other and genuinely seem to be enjoying the buzz. Not pretentious, it’s just about creating a controlled noise, with some cracking melodies running over the top. The whole place was a very sweaty mess by the end.
They played a number of tracks from the new album, such as “Rats in the walls” and “Be kind to the Bugs”, and maybe “Dip”. I have to say sometimes don’t always recognise the songs. The new tracks were supplemented by many of the killer tracks off the first album such as “Jealous”, “Don’t worry ““Turn it off” ”and “Peace on Earth”. You have to give some kudos to a band that mange to get the word uncomfortable (“Turn it off”) into a chorus without it sounding incongruous. The singer did comment that this was the longest set they have performed, I guess recently being hemmed in by the standard 30 minute support slot.
Having listened to the new album there is definitely a change of direction. Live all the songs are punchy and edgy. But a more mature production on “Bay Dream” means overall the sound is more polished, laid back and lyrically more about place (references to the Bay) and love interests than the visceral anger of the first album “Peaches” which was peppered with tracks that were emotionally charged with various forms of alienation. Vocally the second album seems to be a change of style as well to match the more laid back west Coast flavour of the album.
You also have to applaud “Culture Abuse” for demonstrating development and growth. The but here is that I am usually a lover of first albums and as we know they are often the embodiment of the bands birth pangs, having been borne out of adversity and frustration. Second albums are trickier.
Not sure if the change of focus was planned or if it will attract a different audience but its evidence of being in a happier place perhaps as a band and feeling less frustrated by gaining some recognition. This is obviously my personal view and they may disagree.
As previously mentioned I was at the front on this one along with the kids who were moshing along reverently whilst the vocalist threw his mike stand at various band members, who dutifully laid down a solid backing for him.
“Culture Abuse” are now going back to the States to return to the UK in the fall, playing at the Dome. I urge you to check them out. I know I will be. See you there.