Phobophobes, Psycho Comedy, Pale Rider: Shipping Forecast, Liverpool

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There’s nothing to fear but fear itself, so GetintothisDavid Hall took in London sextet Phobophobes backed by two exciting local support acts.

You wouldn’t know from looking at the four timid, youthful faces in their promo shots, but local newbies Pale Rider are a roaring, snorting live band. A shock of black eye shadow masking each members’ eyes onstage, their psychedelic wall of sound was fearsome opening proceedings in the Shipping Forecast.

They wore their classic rock melodic influences on their sleeve, literally in the case of guitarist Fran Codman‘s copious Sabbath and Zeppelin ink on his forearms, and made a mighty, eyebrow-raising racket.

Following up were ever rising local favourites Psycho Comedy. While the spoken word sections over their opening title track were as thrilling as ever, it was the second half of the set that really told of exciting progression.

The hypnotic bassline of latest single The Hangman corkscrewed thrillingly, and their closing track was wrought with rawness and  complexity in equal measure. All eyes might have been on frontman Shaun Powell, but all ears were certainly on that melodic bass locking things down.

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London six piece Phobophobes crammed onto the Shipping Forecast stage a short time later, and picked up with the title track from this year’s Miniature World album. It’s a testament to the quality of the support bands that they were a tough act to follow, and the wandering nature of Phobophobes vintage-sounding keyboard lines were a tough sell at first.

Something special was needed, and the sound received a vicious boost mid-set. Phobophobes delivered the key central dispatch of the recent-released Miniature World in the double header of Child Star and No Flavour. With the bass turned up to truly teeth rattling levels, the Doors-style keyboards became slightly more palatable with the beefed up rhythm section, particularly on the cowbell clonking Child Star.

Still, that organ felt more like a half serious gimmick than anything else, even newest single Where Is My Owner? or the singalong-prompting Human Baby paled somewhat in comparison to the two standout tracks.

Elsewhere, the material blended slightly into one, and that required hypnotic groove was only ever fleetingly gotten into. The organ sound was far too intrusive and distracting to admit Phobophobes into that all-important psychedelic trance-like state. It was near-constant, tinkling away in the background with naïve melodies that never stuck in the brain.

Phobophobes failed to quite achieve that critical level to keep the crowd rapt, and many drifted away before time. It was telling that if anything, the Shipping Forecast was far fuller for Pale Rider‘s opening set, guestlist or not.

Photos by Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan

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