Houndmouth - 100 Club, London
Exciting news: there is free parking in central London - well, it was exciting for me. Sadly I misjudged the walking times, but got to The 100 Club just in time to catch the support act Oh So Quiet, a British band who were a good choice to lead into the headliners. Their soft folk-rock was catchy enough to have those trendsters - this was London after all - in the immediate vicinity watching intently, although a bit quiet to grab the attention of those at the bar. The 100 Club is one of those places that has the stage placed against the widest wall, which makes for good close views of the bands; the only problem is the massive post directly in front of the centre of the stage. Finding somewhere in the room with a full view and good sound is pretty tricky. And the toilets - I always have to comment on the toilets - are very, very small. Apologies to the guy I smashed with the door as he stood using the urinals. Gigs that have the band enjoying themselves on stage always tend to be the best, and there’s no doubt that Houndmouth are enjoying things tonight. In the flesh they’re an unlikely looking band: you’ve got Katie Toupin looking lovely in her summer dress, Matt Myers dressed like a college kid, Zak Appleby with his long hair and baseball cap, and the constantly grinning Shane Cody sporting a trucker hat and beard. Despite the stylistic differences there is a clear chemistry between them and they’re obviously all having fun, maybe something to do with the “bottle of bourbon from home” they’re necking throughout the set. Rattling through tracks from their just released debut album, they’re mostly faithful renditions with an added live rawness and a few extended guitar riffs here and there. ‘Come On Illinois’ and ‘Ludlow’ get the crowd moving and vocal. For ‘Hey Rose’ they bring Will Harvey from Dry The River up on stage to play violin and it turns out to be one of the highlights of the evening, a song that sounds infinitely better live. They’ve got a good percentage of songs that can get the crowd going; the closer tonight ‘Comin’ Round Again’ is joyously raucous, all loud guitar riffs and vocal harmonies. The Toupin sung ‘Houston Train’ is also a delight, starting off quiet before descending into guitar solos and energetic hopping around stage. On drums Cody is great to watch all night, singing along to everything, bantering with the crowd, and offering a full bottle of whiskey to be passed around. Houndmouth are good, honest musicians who have a definite sound, and feed off each other’s energy on stage. On the showing tonight, and the quality of their album, they deserve to be massive. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.