Chain and the Gang, Lovecraft: The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool
Ian Svenonius' Chain and the Gang bring textbook cool and rock and roll glamour to Liverpool for the quintessential Club EVOL showcase.
The first time we saw Ian Svenonius was in a burger joint. He had a giant satsuma in his mouth and proceeded to peel it with his teeth without using his hands.
He's a skilled operator, operating on many levels. And in many ways, like Chilly Gonzales, who followed Svenonius to Liverpool later last year, he's become the quintessential Club EVOL booking.
Like Shellac are to All Tomorrow's Parties, Svenonius and Chilly are EVOL's overseas house bands; home-from-home bandit heroes bringing with them their raffish charm and luxurious self-indulgence.
Decadent maverick alt-indie geniuses who straddle counter-culture zeitgeist; super cool lotharios who've mastered every facet of the rock and roll handbook - from the musicianship and technical craft to the look and stage command. You cannot teach this. It cannot be bought or learnt.
And recalling that first time we saw Svenonius inside some cruddy fast food hut at ATP, tonight inside the frosty Shipping Forecast's Hold, once again he stands out from the crowd.
A singular proposition; stalking the small stage like a besuited panther his magnetism is infectious and he knows it; the healthy gathering tripping on his every utterance and urgent flick of the mic.
Disjointed yarns punctuate a set heavily-drizzled with drama. Svenonius adopts the role of ringmaster - part super-sharp Jarvis, complete with winkle-picking high kicks, part Iggy unleashing unbridled raw power.
To his left, Katie Alice Greer plays the ultimate foil. Like a Parisian rag doll she bounds about shaking her bowlcut and screaming vocal fills with stunning abandon as the remaining Chain Gang stand stock still seemingly unaware they're even in attendance. They pilot a steady automated groove with the likes of For Practical Purposes (I Love You) typifying their swaggering indifference.
Visually it's outrageous, musically a little less so. The tunes are rooted in rock and roll retro garage boogie but they're carried over the lines by Team Svenonius and their commitment to badass textbook cool. In all honesty, you'd die to be in this gang.
Earlier, Lovecraft once again showcased their underrated wonky pop as Craig Sinclair married his lyrical lexicography to a myriad of chugging riffs, organ swirls, off-kilter vocal harmonies and frantic percussion.
Theirs is a sound which is nightmarish, progressive and yet compellingly fun. Crafty buggers.
Photography by Steve at Furious Films.