Live Review: Pigeon, Chinatown Carpark at Alhambra Lounge

25 April 2012 | 12:10 pm | Sam Hobson

There's a considerable wait before the bands start here at Alhambra. When they finally come, the vocals from openers Chinatown Carpark are hard to hear over everything else. Their thick, typically indie sounds – stuttered riffs, calypso sensibilities – are delineated by some great, lolling bass work, and the band's considerable knack for layering their twinkling melodic refrains. The lead guitarist is very active - always climbing, talking - and as a whole, the band have a gorgeous tone. It aches, but in the happiest way – the way nostalgia kindly hurts. Favourite propels itself with a wild, giddy stagger, gaining speed, and debris; it's a great, rolling Katamari of a track. As things draw to a close, their amorphous set takes a decidedly more post-rock leaning with Regret – soars of shrilling guitars start small before thoroughly swallowing the memory of everything else.

After a short wait, there's a clambering on the stage. The light catches on a Christmas beanie, then there's a flash of sax, and what looks like a trumpet. The figures disappear, and the floor is shaken by a grinding dance number from the house speakers. Then, somehow, before we're even aware of it, the stage is again full, and the floor is a mess of moshing and pulsing – people rocking wildly back and forth. Before their similarities to Justice eclipse that first impression of Pigeon completely, the air is broken by the bleeding heart of a saxophone, shrill and unchained, leaving the crowd a little airless in their shock. This one-two punch of entrance and volume becomes the booming Smart Casual Calvary. It's followed by a new song, which sounds joyously like Skrillex gone Gary Numan.

The gorgeous, proud strains of a trumpet open a track that's notable for its more organic approach to dubstep. Apex doesn't sound like machinery, or the dying moans of old buildings: it sounds like life, and dancing. To the lazy ear, Pigeon appear very cluttered, excessive and overstuffed: everything accented with a bold, primary-colour garishness, but in that noise, there are very clear flashes of ingenuity, and an undeniable sense of fun. The wobbling synths below the siren-like screeches of brass are together so stark, and insistent, they're almost, by force alone, a revelation.