As three high potential acts in Glass Caves, Natalie McCool and Spares hit Studio 2, Getintothis’ Nathaniel Cummings weighed up their mainstream potential.
At a time when so many bands are using social media as their main (or sole) platform for advertisement and promotion, it makes it difficult for a fan to know or find what it is they’re looking for. The three acts we saw playing last night are three that are vying for a spot on the roster of a mainstream label – there can be no doubting that. All three were well contrived and had refined what ‘it’ was that they felt made them more legitimate as a potential signing than any other band on the scene currently – let’s delve into more detail and find out who packed the biggest punch.
Upon arriving the atmosphere was tellingly charged, and Studio 2’s classy aesthetic and surround had been compromised by a youthful, giggly kind of excitement as Spares opened the evening. A young man clad head-to-heel in concerningly tight leopard print certainly held the attention of the crowd throughout the show, and his giddy dedication of several of the Spares songs to his friends perhaps spoke for his genuine excitement for the gig.
An uncharacteristically young audience for the venue lapped up his eccentricity and the child-like excitement in the crowd reached a peak as numerous branded beach balls bounded around the audience – we moved to the back at this point to avoid pint-spillage but nevertheless, it was interesting to watch.
Unfortunately their performance was much more a visual spectacle than an audible one – the songs need work and diversity needs to be discovered, but that can certainly be developed in time. As for now these lads seem to have a sound, and they certainly know how to generate a party atmosphere amongst a young audience. If they can mature musically, with the endless enthusiasms of their frontman they could make an attractive proposition to a commercial label in the future.
Natalie McCool took to the stage next, faced with the difficult task of proposing a much more ‘grown-up’ pop performance to the audience. She didn’t disappoint. The launch of her new single Cardiac Arrest was her primary promotion – and she was sure no one left without a free copy afterwards – but it was only one of a number of truly tasteful pop songs she played during the show.
With the help of a track, a subtle sweetness in her guitar tone and a drummer who was hot-at-hand to trigger the appropriate midi-sounds, the intricacies through which Natalie had carefully composed her songs became immediately apparent and the atmosphere was intimated in response. Fortress, a single due for release early next year, was the highlight of the set; McCool swiftly taught everyone the lyrics before she began, and the crowd obliged in a warming sing-along, epitomizing the song’s lyrics and supporting the young front-woman in delivering this touching ballad.
In terms of sound, dynamic and structure, Fortress is a song that honestly wouldn’t sound out of place on any mainstream chart, in our opinion. Her humble approach to connecting with the audience will never be underappreciated in a Liverpool crowd as Natalie’s evident modesty allowed the space for her songs to speak for her. The textures in her tunes and her determined desire to move away from what is obviously conventional in popular music left us truly impressed by an artist who can hopefully make it all the way to the charts.
Up next were out-of-towners Glass Caves, the Leeds lads certainly looked the part with curly mops and dark clobber, and they could all play. The names of the band’s members have proven surprising elusive to find online, but their lead singer certainly had no intention of hiding last night. His vocals outshone their melodies, his range was impressively strong and he was obviously well practiced – no slips or squeaks, a really strong vocalisation of his songs.
The sweetly sung harmonies of the lead guitarist made for a mix of vocals really easy on the ears and dynamic guitar and bass work impressed that these lads were really well practiced and had taken their work seriously. By the end of the first song, the crowd knew what they were in for and matched the band’s energy on stage – it was bouncing. Alive was the keystone of a consistent set in which Glass Caves displayed their camaraderie with on-stage embraces and face-fulls of intense vocals. We’d say they lacked the diversity in the dynamics their tunes and that little spark-of-something-special in their songwriting to match the impressiveness of Natalie McCool’s performance prior, but the lads are clearly a band determined on mainstream indie success, and with a little fine-tuning, we wouldn’t be surprised if they found it.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody.