Walking into a room which is a sea of black, awash with callous heart back patches, can mean only one thing: in this room a lucky few will be watching the latest installment in the meteoric rise of Southampton goth punks Creeper.
Before the main event is what promises to be a stellar line up, with support acts who are tipped to rise in a similar fashion. Sometimes promises are broken, Energy take the stage filled with energy and they fly through their set with enough presence to get sections of the audience going. What they have in stage craft and enthusiasm is sadly not backed by a strong set list. There are a lot of similarities between them and Creeper and maybe this is where the problem lies. In the front-man there is a focal point and behind there are a group of musicians with a lot of talent the combination just didn’t quite match. I suppose this is a billing that is almost a poison chalice with such a strong line up it is very hard to stand out.
With a crowd warmed up and ready for more Milk Teeth emerged and threw themselves into throwback grunge punk. For the entirety of the set the majority of the crowd went wild and the room was full of movement and singalongs with singles ‘Swear Jar’ and ‘Vitamins’ being thrown out rapid fire. This is a band that are almost as hotly tipped as the headliners but again there is something missing, there is a possibility that Milk Teeth are a grower and need further exploration but as the set came to a close so did some of the enthusiasm of the room. Maybe this is gig fitness, anticipation or a set that is a few songs too long but there is an almost flat feeling as they leave the stage. With this said it is always great to see a front woman stealing the focus.
Finally the lights drop, the smoke settles and the room is illuminated by purple crosses. Creeper file out onto the stage one by one, flashing callous hearts as they take position. As Will Gould entered the fray he took control of the room instantly. Opening with ‘Black Rain’ the audience were instantly in full voice and remained part of the band for every moment of every song. As the crowd were whipped up into a frenzy and obeyed every request from Creeper there was a moment of calm, the stage emptied and ‘Crickets’ offered a welcome rest from the endless spontaneous circle pits, every word is sung straight back the room is still and content.
With applause still stinging the walls of the venue, the band returned to the stage and took a final journey through their back catalogue creating a set list and atmosphere which will remain long in the memory. Creeper’s faultless musicianship, razor sharp guitar combos and tight harmonies created a sound which add live gloss to released versions without sacrificing any emotion and this is one of the things that sets them apart. The other is the various presences on the stage, the band may not all be as flamboyant or charismatic as Will Gould but few are what they do have as individuals and a group is a visual draw making every moment utterly mesmerising.
In a night which is full of positives there are inevitably some negatives, as hyped up guys run around like giddy frat boys knocking into people and generally show a lack of class and respect. There is one question on the mind of sections of the audience (including myself): Am I too old for this shit? There may also be a very strong argument against the pop punk scene and the role they should, but do not often play, in the ‘safe gigs for women’ movement.
It is almost fitting that on ‘April Fool’s Day’ a show could almost be ruined by some April fools, luckily Creeper rescued the night one song at a time to leave an audience utterly blown away, covered in sweat and picking jaws from the floor.