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Gig Preview: Rifffest 2019

Sam Campbell looks ahead to this weekend's scuzzy musical goings-on

This Saturday 25 January will see the self-styled ‘psych-grunge’ trio Breeders will take over Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds for the afternoon, joined by friends with whom they share a penchant for riffs/scuzz/all that noisy stuff, for Rifffest. The other bands on the bill for the day are Crows, Strange Bones, Calva Louise, Dead Naked Hippies, DENSE, and 99% Cobra.

Towards the end of 2019 Brooders – who are curating the gig – released two blistering singles, ‘Mindfield’ and ‘Caged’. Likewise, headliners Crows released their debut album Silver Tongues at the start of last year, featuring singles such as ‘Wednesday’s Child’ and ‘Chain of Being’. International upstarts Calva Louise also put out their debut album Rhinoceros, while Strange Bones dropped an EP entitled Bliz Part 1. In the last few hours, Brooders hyped up their audience further in anticipation of Rifffest this weekend with a brand new track on their Soundcloud, which you can listen to here.

The lineup is varied and diverse, with the one unifying quality being a love of loud, punchy guitars and grumbling bass. Brooders’ sound is a  combination of fuzzy riffs which bear some resemblance to the Melvins, with rolling drums and tuneful vocal delivery – at times delving into more psychedelic territory, in pools of chorus and reverb. Crows have delved into a heavier sound since the days of their earlier tracks such as ‘Pray’ and ‘Crawling – which I first heard in their support slots for bands such as Wolf Alice and Slaves back in 2016. They are moody, bluesy and not without the more experimental influences of post-punk and, like Brooders, psychedelia.

Moving down the bill, Calva Louise and Dead Naked Hippies will be ones to watch. Calva Louise are a chaotic yet, strangely, hold together a kind of pop sensibility that one can’t help but feel will get them a great amount of airtime over the next year or so – the energy that runs throughout Rhinoceros has an infectious radio quality to it. Meanwhile, Dead Naked Hippies are bound to put on a great show if their previous live performances are anything to go by. Over the last couple of years they have played innumerable gigs in this region, not least the hallowed stage of the Polar Bear for the famous Sesh nights. I’m sure it will be a bracing afternoon.

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