Menace Beach - The Cookie, Leicester 01/02/2017

Menace Beach – The Cookie, Leicester 01/02/2017

The basement of The Cookie is always a welcoming environment, if somewhat compact and bijou. The low-slung ceiling creates a claustrophobic haven for like-minded souls and there is a sense that in here, we are all safe; there is not a chance the evils of the world can touch us. Unless of course, you are a 7 foot tall guitarist called Tom Trigg with tonight’s local support Kermes. Whilst the band centrifugally revolve around the irresistible force of turquoise haired lead singer Emily Rose Teece, poor old Tom is in serious danger of ending the night in A&E. Thankfully for him, most eyes are trained on Treece who gives off enough energy to power a small Leicestershire village. Apparently they are a ‘trashgaze screampop’ band. They are also highly entertaining.

Menace Beach seem polite in comparison to the scorched earth which has just preceded them. They arrive in town with a new album fresh on the shelves. Lemon Memory is strictly following the age-old maxim of evolution not revolution from their debut Ratworld, with less scuzz and an increase in rambunctious catchiness…if there is such a thing. Vocalist Ryan Needham resembles a more introverted Jurgen Klopp as he launches straight into ‘Give Blood’ only to stop 20 seconds in due to the onset of ‘technical difficulties’. Terse, nervous glances are exchanged on stage as Needham gingerly attempts take 2. It’s hardly the best of starts and the awkwardness permeates through much of the early numbers and throughout the crowd who are wondering if it’s safe to join in with gay abandon or to maintain a watching brief, we opt for the latter just in case.

Such reticence is disappointing because ‘Suck It Out’ is a delicious slice of power-pop pie and ‘Sentimental’ its sweet, dense gelato accompaniment. Only when the much-loved Ratworld material makes an appearance do the band settle down and move through the gears. The effervescent ‘Tennis Court‘ and retro 80’s stomp ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ positively crackle with enthusiasm and familiarity and smiles start to appear throughout the congregation. It’s taken some time, but Menace Beach are finally cooking on gas. Just as well really, as ‘Maybe We’ll All Drown‘ sees Liza Violet take over lead vocals despite a faux contretemps with Needham regarding the fragility of her voice. If Menace Beach are to evolve further then the contrast of Violet’s innocent voice next to their cheesewire guitars is surely going to be the way to go, offering up more than one arrow in their collective quiver.

For all the fuzz and the fury, the posing and pouting and the plethora of well-crafted new millenia shoegaze toe-tappers, it’s really the presence of Violet which sets Menace Beach apart from some of their peers. She isn’t just calm, she looks almost motionless for most of the night, her gaze set to somewhere left of Saturn or perhaps she’s just contemplating if she left the iron on. Either way, she is beguiling in a ‘I’m too cool to do much’ kinda way which is a fierce juxtaposition to Emily Rose Teece only thirty minutes ago. I mount the stairs to the mocking ‘Can’t Get A Haircut’ which as a balding gentleman I feel is an unnecessary slight.

Menace Beach will have better nights I’m sure but once the new tracks become internalized this is a band who will do far more than tune in, turn on and drop out after 20 seconds.

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