Dutch Uncles, Infinity Hertz, Boots Booklovers – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Tuesday November 22
Before headliners Dutch Uncles made their appearance – upstairs at the Rescue Rooms, in the implausibly named Red Room (it’s actually green) – a couple of local acts took to the stage. First up were Boots Booklovers: five young lads from Beeston, who have been getting their name increasingly known around town this year. Earlier this week, they were announced as finalists in Nusic’s competition to find a support act for Dog Is Dead at Rock City in December, having finished in joint first place in the public vote stage of the contest. They’re a fresh-faced bunch, with neat, buttoned-up collars and instruments that still look a bit too big for their slender frames. The Eighties-slick singer and the Fifties-quiffed drummer have the best haircuts, the lead guitarist and the bassist look like brothers (perhaps they are), and the five-piece comes across as a closely-knit unit with a pleasing sense of purpose. Jangly indie-pop often sounds best when the ideas are slightly ahead of the execution, and if that sounds like a sly dig, then it’s not meant to be. It’s usually a sign that the band are pushing themselves hard as songwriters and arrangers, and in this case, the signs are already clear: this is a band with a future.
Perhaps it was because Infinity Hertz opted to play in darkness – only the drummer was visible, his upper body illuminated by the titchy kaleidoscopic visuals on the back wall – but it was harder to get a handle on what the second act of the night were all about. According to the band’s Facebook page, their stock in trade is “altruistic alchemypop skip-hop shoowave”, so perhaps there’s no point in trying to slot them into a genre. Still, the silhouetted gloom was an apt match for the dour intensity of the music, and in particular for the doomy, somewhat mannered vocals of the lead singer. In place of Boots Booklovers’ freshly laundered neatness, the five members of Infinity Hertz looked more dishevelled, and perhaps less well-nourished. The first band were cheered on by their beaming mums and dads; the second band were stared at by their cool mates. It was a striking contrast.
Opening with the pounding, piano-led title track from their critically acclaimed second album Cadenza, Dutch Uncles had the suddenly swollen crowd on their side right from the start. Led by the appealingly awkward Duncan Wallis – a tall, twitchy fellow, with the slight stoop of someone who has perhaps become used to dodging low ceilings in poky venues – the Manchester five-piece rattled confidently through their forty-five minute set, negotiating the tricksy twists and turns of their material with consummate ease. Their music bears comparison with the math-rock of Foals, Everything Everything and Dirty Projectors, but there’s a pronounced funkiness to them as well, which stops them becoming too cerebral and dry. There aren’t many bands who could successfully inject rock’s punch and dance music’s groove into a re-working of composer Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, as they do on recent single X-O, but Dutch Uncles are no ordinary band. “It feels like we’ve righted a wrong”, said a delighted Wallis at the end of the set, “because our last couple of gigs in Nottingham were a bit shite”. They can’t come back soon enough.