Torche / Fat Goth @ Broadcast, Glasgow 20/08/2013
When the short-lived Glasgow institution Captains Rest closed its doors, it took a lot of great memories with it: Scott Kelly, A Storm Of Light and Young Widows were just a handful of the hallowed to grace its tiny yet perfectly proportioned stage. It took a while for its successor, Broadcast, to get up and running and it seems it’ll be a little while yet before it can even think of standing toe-to-toe with its overachieving late brother. The lighting’s poor, the stage is non-existent and it does that weird thing where, if you get more than a dozen people down there, you’ll soon find your own sweat taking a kamikaze dive from the ceiling to your eyeballs. Nonetheless, it has a certain scuzzy charm and the crowd don’t seem too fussed: they have the look of riff-lust in their eyes and nothing short of a Spartan garrison that’ll get between them and the Orange stack in front of them.
A true power trio (in that there’s three of them and they’re bloody loud), Fat Goth are one of those bands that could conceivably support anyone and no-one would think anything of it. Progressive in the least offensive sense of the word, they throw a little bit of everything into the pot, so one minute they’re sludging it up like Melvins, the next they’ve got the room bouncing like they’re the teuchter Dead Kennedys, keeping an already hyper audience on their toes and soon even the more stoic front row posse are warming to them, nodding in time with their psychopop riffery. What impresses most is their flawless blend of skill and enthusiasm – even their most complex deviations are nailed with Teutonic precision, but to watch them, they might as well be a pop-punk band, lithe young ‘uns that they are. Free of pretention and fuelled by the ambitions of thirty bands within three men, they’re practically the definition of a great warm-up act.
As Torche emerge, the aforementioned perspiration condensation situation is getting more noticeable, with even moustache aficionado and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks now noting that it “must be the warmest Glasgow’s been all year in here.” And he’s from Miami, so he knows his humidity. Setting off on a Harmonicraft twofer of ‘Letting Go’ and ‘Kicking’, the overwhelming punch of the sound system pushes Brooks’ vocals into near-inaudibility, yet as a balance begins to establish, the extra oomph soon becomes the night’s selling point. They sound massive, all those wonderfully catchy hooks now rendered in the deafening tones of an IMAX summer wallet-killer. And those are just the lighter numbers, the sing-along cuts that make them such an endearing band to be a fan of.
By the time ‘In Pieces’ is cranked out, the sound is a deluge, smothering the room in a satisfyingly apocalyptic fuzz and crackle, with Brooks’ voice now rising to the occasion. The big and brash numbers go down a treat, a welcome return for ‘Healer’ upping the tempo and delivering the most urgent rush of energy the night’s seen yet, while ‘Snakes Are Charmed’ reminds us of their innate skill at atypical, tricksy melodies, Brooks and Andrew Elstner doing their part to echo the guitar duos of yore and succeeding, their joint enthusiasm seemingly keeping them in step along its serpentine path. It’s a particularly satisfying counterpart to their usual polish, the weighty burr of Jonathan Nuñez noticeably looser and more aggressive, and it’s one of those moments that could truly sell these guys to the uninitiated.
Of course, the crowd are here because they’re veterans, the Floor fans those who got caught up in Torche’s momentum and stayed the long haul, lapping up the boisterous hooks with as much gusto as the early head trips, and so the appreciation seems to step up as the night descends into a final fifteen minute crush of unadulterated sludge pressure, ‘Charge of the Brown Recluse’ contributing heavily to the game-changing nature of their transformation. It’s like watching a completely different band – they seem more focused and aggressive, the impressive nature of their guitar work now taken to the next level as they concentrate solely on the more oppressive side of the spectrum.
People love to talk about Torche as being one of those “I don’t know why these guys aren’t huge” kind of bands, and this is the reason why. No matter how many radio-friendly three-minute ‘stoner-pop’ (shudder) gems they can muster, when they’re on stage they’re still at their best when they’re playing loud and heavy. Everything has a raw, rusted edge that only those with a bit of the gutter to their tastes can appreciate and, judging by the band’s enthusiastic turn throughout this evening, this is the sort of audience they appreciate too. As it turns out, Eminem is in town tonight too, which is why the streets outside have a peculiarly stabby feel to them but, inside this basement bubble at least, there’s been an hour of sweaty, shouty, deafening fun being had, and it is, put simply, bloody awesome.
Scribed by: Dave Bowes