Nothing Ever Happens Here: Broken Records / Garden Of Elks / Fuzzystar @ Summerhall, Edinburgh, 27 Mar
Can’t fault the folks behind Nothing Ever Happens Here for their noble intention to reignite the Edinburgh live music scene; enthusiastic cheers please, everyone. Things get off to an unremarkable start, admittedly; openers Fuzzystar have the sort of name you’d expect from a late-80s Boston college rock outfit, so it’s disappointing that half their set consists of blandly wet balladry. Still, there’s an agreeable Mark Kozelek-ish quality to frontman Andy Thomson’s sombre vocal, and when they – inevitably – get their Buffalo Tom on and kick the pace up a notch or two, they’re plenty of fun.
Garden Of Elks, meanwhile, go straight into noise and don’t let up. Louder and more chaotic than on their (actually very fine) debut album A Distorted Sigh, there’s a sense of chaos bubbling underneath their manic, grunge-inflected fuzz-pop that makes it difficult to keep your eyes off ‘em. Fighting a curiously quiet room, Niall Strachan rambles enthusiastically about sprouts while Ryan Drever pogos with delightfully oblivious abandon; feedback blaring and hearts pounding amid the melodic maelstrom. It all ends with Strachan nonchalantly launching his guitar at the front row: more of this sort of thing please.
Difficult to follow, you might think, but the audience is ready and primed for Broken Records’ grand vision. The first act of the evening to truly elicit an ecstatic reaction from the now-bustling Summerhall, their grandiose, violin-led microdramas evoke Scott Walker one moment and Bruce Springsteen the next, and if we’ve done our maths right that should add up to Arcade Fire. There is, however, a warmth to Sutherland’s stage presence that isn’t quite equivalent to Win Butler’s elegiac otherness, most eloquently demonstrated when everyone present loses themselves to All Else Can Just Wait’s blissed-out refrain. Nothing Ever Happens Here? That’s about to change, and what a way to start.