[sic] Magazine

Crystal Antlers @ The Roadhouse, Manchester 27th Feb 2014

If we do say so ourselves, [sic] isn’t always too shabby when it comes to words. When push comes to shove though – hands up – we’re not the best at photography. Sure, we could claim the shockingly lo-fi blur we’ve led with here is intentional. It has a certain overexposed charm, and we do hate the intrusive, often unflattering use of flash. Quite simply though, we’re just not professionals in this area.

Californian longhairs Crystal Antlers however are total professionals when it comes to their craft, unleashing a storm of honest-to-goodness underground rock in the face of a criminally underpopulated crowd. Frontman Johnny Bell calls the venue “awkward” too and he has a point, the small space’s speaker stack doubling as a sizeable stage barrier.

Remember, this is a band that have previously shared bills with the likes of Health and Deerhunter and there’s a maximum of 25 people in tonight. Pity Manchester’s go-to speaker-blown support act Sex Hands even more then because there’s fewer still in for their scruffy, noisy indie-punk set that – almost inevitably – culminates in a messy cover of genre gods The Clean.

Back to Crystal Antlers themselves, who tick a lot of boxes tonight, swirling psychedelic organ lines into their spiky rock, varying the tempo and employing a fine range of hand-hit pedal effects. “Rattle Snake” from last year’s solid Nothing Is Real LP sounds particularly venomous (sorry), the band getting loud and heavy (in both its senses) to close on a high. There may have only been a few sets of ears in to hear the band tonight, but rest assured they’ll all be going home happy.