Live Review: Greenthief, Aerials, Forever The Optimist, We Live Forever

4 December 2012 | 7:11 pm | Sam Hobson

Greenthief play not songs, but rather furry, electrified slabs.

The night, its back bowing under the weight of impending rain, is as thick and as hot as they come. Inside The Zoo, the wall fans are blaring, exhausted and useless. A screen flickers to life atop the wide stage, the air so stagnant and hot you'd fear a spark were it not for the humidity. In moving type, it reads: We Live Forever. A short-ish man takes the stage centre, mostly in silhouette, and begins a line of operatic, self-serious singing. At the close of his soliloquy, an air-raid siren sounds and some very young looking guys amble to his sides. Launching into a murder of chunky riffs, the five-piece are a band whose ambition is clear, even if their vision isn't yet completely their own.

Next up, Forever The Optimist's female guitarist plays in perpetual hero-shot, and she knows it. In front of a wind machine with long black hair and a hefty guitar, she stands tough and effortlessly cinematic. Image aside, the locals have a solid grasp on their groovy blend of metal. With cleverly interlocking riffs and songs that are well fleshed out, they play most engagingly in their instrumental sections and proggy, extended outros.

Aerials, next, though it wasn't required, are an immediate step up in quality. Increasing the volume, too, the band begins with something serious and searing to prove. 'Immense' is the only way to describe their ungodly level of loud and fast; but from that assault, their sound looms giant and fresh. Textured, wobbly vocals crest whining guitars and bleeding drums – it's all consuming and all good.

Soon the room washes with blue light and the stage rolls thick burps of smoke. Skeletal sounds of a tribal drum shake a ghostly, hypnotic rhythm over the distorted, mournful wails of a guitar. A contortionist bends and shifts out of the mist and the smoke turns green. Another guitar stutters to life – a sweet, dissonant thing that floods suddenly with melody. Greenthief are upon us. Funk scatters wildly around the room, punctuated only by scuzzy, screech-filled breakdowns which in turn are topped by some incredible, Mars Volta-esque vocals. Knobbled, lurching chunks of guitar spit out of a song called Salad Days, but in general everything just lurches around the expectation (and then deliverance) of their super-single Messiah. They play a new song, next: an anonymous title with a thrash-like opening, which slows thrillingly into a deep, sludge-y groove, before bending back into a track from their latest EP. Thiers is a set of vital, dynamic psych-rock. Greenthief play not songs, but rather furry, electrified slabs.

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