Cheekface @ Stereo, Glasgow, 31 Mar

Cheekface may brand themselves as “America’s local band” but there is no shortage of interest on this side of the Atlantic, as hundreds pack into a sold-out Stereo

Live Review by Max Sefton | 03 Apr 2024
  • Cheekface

Cheekface consist of frontman and guitarist Greg Katz, bassist Mandy Tannen and drummer Mark “Echo” Edwards, plus live keyboardist Alex “AJ” Johnson. After four albums, the LA jokers have built up a devoted following with their droll humour and enormous energy, but this is their first time in Glasgow and the question they have to answer is: can you take the same riffs on pop culture and jittery riffs on millennial woes around the world and still make them land?

In support, local outfit TEOSE feel like they're probably just finding their feet, but it’s an open-minded audience and their lo-fi indie-pop features some welcome changes in pace. They’re one to keep an eye on as they put on an energetic performance, particularly their moustachioed drummer who can’t resist singing along to his own tunes.

As for Cheekface, when it hits right, their combination of power pop riffs and gags land them somewhere between Weezer and Devo. When it doesn’t, they can come of as both a little precious and a little relentless. Entering the stage one at a time, a la Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, they lunge into Next To Me (Yo Guy Version) and don’t really let up the pace for the next hour. Even when the band isn’t playing, Katz has an arsenal of well-rehearsed quips and gags which seem to land well with the mostly male and millennial audience.

There’s bits of both Jeff Rosenstock and Stephen Malkmus in his delivery, while fans of homegrown acts like Yard Act will also find plenty to like. The meta-joke that runs through the show is that the frontman’s speak-sung, sometimes deliberately one-note vocals serve as the counterpart to his energetic musical colleagues – Edwards (Harold Ramis meets Phil Collins), Tannen (Kim Deal meets Misty from Pokemon) and Johnson (a seemingly lightly glazed Shaggy Rogers wannabe) – and for the most part the trio do a good job of driving the show forward one low slung bass riff at a time.

At times the jokes can be hit and miss – You Always Want To Bomb the Middle East has a perky tune but the lyrics lack any real precision or incisiveness. Equally, attempting to start your own “here we fucking go” chant verges on the presumptuous. Still, by the time this rapid-fire hour comes to a close, the audience are buzzing, jaws aching and feet moving. Cheekface might be America’s local band but they’re more than welcome here in Glasgow too.