• Josh Hughes


Lounging around in the Kaz

It's been weird going back to gigs. I've slowly been dipping my toes back in as "normal" comes back in full force, but there's still an eerie vibe seeing a garishly long queue for a nightclub or a fresher cowering in the doorway of a closed Italian restaurant. What's even more daunting is a sold-out show in one of Liverpool's smallest venues, Kazimier Stockroom. Opened in 2019, the tiny room somehow holds 100 heads and provides the sweaty claustrophobic vibes of The Jacaranda and EBGBs without the risk of bashing your head a dozen times, and they also serve Magic Rock Brewery on tap is a nice addition. So, standing there, reasonably priced pint in hand, the breeze of the outdoors escaping, I eagerly awaited the opening band.

Torture and the Desert Spiders (7/10) have been making a name for themselves over the past two years. A DIY punk project from New Yorker Anna Kunz, the intriguingly named trio have seemed to escape me on the live scene, until tonight. The first minute or so is solely Kunz and her guitar, intimately glaring into the crowd as she croons, until the drums and bass kick in and proceed to sock everyone across the head. Apart from the guitar being a little drowned out by the lower end, there's an unmistakeable bite to the three-piece, completed by Clara Cicely on bass and Max Meunier on drums. Kunz is a brilliant performer, matching her unique and raw vocals with erratic emphasised movements on stage, whilst Cicely has a Smashing Pumpkins Machina-era Melissa Auf der Maur style to her playing, playful whilst also being absolutely killer, and Meunier stuns with his beefy rhythm pulsating throughout the small room. Cicely and Meunier gel together perfectly, whilst Kunz carries the rest of the weight with her scrappy guitar playing and rich and sharp voice, and it makes for a combination of personalities that tags them as band to keep on your radar.

After a short break, it was time for a change of pace, as local lo-fi legend Bill Nickson (9/10) takes to the stage for the first time since NYE 2019. Backed by his impeccable band, Nickson has blossomed from the confines of his bedroom to playing alongside the likes of Japanese Breakfast and Pete Doherty. With a set of both familiar and new songs, he proves why he should be headlining more shows than supporting. From the first strum of "Time", the crowd is engaged by Nickson and his brand of lo-fi indie pop, all heads in the room bobbing along in an almost hypnotic way. New additions to the band, Liam Evans and Nick Jones on bass and drums respectively, add a freshness and bang to the rhythm section, whilst mainstay Adam Craddock brings extra dimensions to the Nickson's live sound, taking dual roles on guitar and keyboard to bring the true sound of the songwriter's back catalogue. And Nickson himself doesn't hold back either, wearing his heart on his sleeve with his vulnerable and brutally honest vocals and falling into the pillowy Pavement sound of his band as crowd favourite "What To Say" jangles along with its hooky leads. There's charm to the set as well, notably Nickson's light and fun stage banter that makes him even more endearing to the crowd and the point I myself lent a guitar pick out of my pocket as he dropped his in between songs. As the band goes into a short and sweet finisher, there's definitely more appreciative heads and ears in the room, as Nickson bids farewell and everyone hopes to see him back on stage real soon.

In a strange turn of events, there's a half hour wait until the headliners akin to the style of O2 Academy gigs, so there was time for more pints and chats. Whilst chatting to friends old and new, I was completely unaware of the gaggle of people slowly pouring through the door, so as I returned, I was greeted by a room packed like a tin of tuna. With the room suitably heaving, it was time for The Lounge Society (8/10) to top off the night. It's the Yorkshire quartet's first headline tour, so the stakes are pretty high, but judging from the swathe of fans in the venue, they're set to impress. It's pretty It's hard to see from my forced perspective right at the back, but I can definitely hear the roar of the crowd as the boys kick into their set. It's a generous mix of indie rock, punk and a few dashes of disco splashed in for good measure, giving off the vibes of higher echelon mid-2000s lad rock bands like Maxïmo Park and Franz Ferdinand. There's great stage presence as well, especially when the bass, guitar and vocal duties are passed around like a mix of Musical Chairs and Pass The Parcel. The pit that opens at the front is completely voluntary, a sign that a good portion of the crowd have been gasping for a sweaty show since the lockdown ended, and the lads relish the enthusiasm. As their blistering set comes to a close, I can't wait a minute longer for some fresh air, so I sadly miss the end, but leave the venue invigorated and excited for more shows to come.

Rating: 8/10

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