Crystal Antlers – Hot Light Fiesta – By the Sea – Mojo Live Review

Posted on 29 September 2011
By Richard Lewis
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Crystal Antlers, presently turning heads with recent EP Son of the Mirror (unlikely to be a Piers Morgan reference) were in excellent form at a sweltered Mojo.

Lead singer/bassist Johnny Bell had clearly come prepared for the English weather, the Californian native unnecessarily bundled up in a coat onstage.

Opening with a teasing psychedelic dual guitar introduction as the PA continued to play, the quintet strode into their set, emphatically placing the louder end of their catalogue at the beginning of proceedings.

Continuing a prestigious lineage stretching back to the 1980s US underground, the Long Beach denizens have minted their own roughed-up take on pysch rock, reminiscent of the much loved Hüsker Dü.

Despite the occasionally muddy sound, the band’s dynamics were much in evidence, key track Andrew alternating tempos and moods from anthemic to pummeling in winning fashion.

Two Way Mirror best distilled the band’s curious musical mélange, somewhere between The Pixies’ more manic tracks with added swirling Ray Manzarek hammond organ.

After a superb set, the five-piece’s return to the region can’t come soon enough, the band hopefully winning greater recognition along the way as they remain a largely unheralded gem.

Before ver ‘Antlers headline slot, Hot Light Fiesta’s percussive dance/rock hybrid took to the stage.

Segueing most of the tracks into one long whole, the quartet seemingly dabbled in roughly four different genres, sometimes simultaneously.

Utilising the same African influenced guitar riffs sourced by Two Door Cinema and Vampire Weekend, the band contrasted this with passages that turned into an all-out thrash at points.

The group’s longest song of the set, a bludgeoning dancefloor friendly piece turned in last but one provided the highlight of their slot.

Prior to Hot Light Fiesta, By the Sea continued their steady progress, playing to a large crowd early on.

Just about managing to fit onto the visible portion of Mojo’s stage, the six piece’s Brydsian jangle was supplemented by the keyboards pushed higher in the mix.

The band’s harmonies were as strong as ever, with Always an End chiming like early Stone Roses.

Photographs by Marie Hazlewood