Of all the places in the UK to spawn a new scene of garage rock, Cornwall probably would have been most people’s last guess. However fronting the self-acclaimed ‘beach punk’ uprising and blasting their way out of the country side and into Sticky Mikes Frog Bar are the brilliantly energetic Black Tambourines.
As the band walk on stage a cheer goes up among the crowd, and after some preliminary feedback the band storm into the song Who You Talkin’ To from their 2010 EP Hombre. While Sticky Mikes has certainly seen bigger crowds, the band are not deterred and thrash through the song with all the punk energy and fury that we thought died out in the 80’s. While there’s not enough of an audience to facilitate moshing or crowd surfing, no-one can keep still as they awkwardly dance trying to keep up with the impossibly fast tempo.
The hit song I Wanna Stay Away gets one of the biggest responses of the night, with the crowd letting out a wild cheer as soon as the iconic drum line kicks in. Arguably the bands biggest song, it causes the audience to crank it up a gear as one girl climbs on her friend’s shoulders and begins to inadvertently bang her head against the lighting rig. While she plays air drums about 5ft higher than she normally would, the band revel in the madness they’re creating onstage and fully embrace their roles as orchestrators of sonic chaos. Despite technical difficulties with guitarist Josh Spencer’s amp the band carry on unhindered, barely noticing it through their sporadic head-banging. As the song comes to a close the band take a moment to talk to the audience before introducing one of their new songs that has yet to be released. ‘You should press record on this one…’ guitarist/vocalist Sam Stacpoole says, ‘on your mobile phones, your dictaphones, xylophones, homophones; get it out before we do!’. The new song in question is a mess of rambunctious power chords and sloppy guitar lines, with bassist Jake Willbourne shouting incoherent vocals over the top. Much like other songs in their repertoire the song is brimming with energy and fits in nicely with the rest of the set.
To finish off, the band play crowd favourite 25-27 Blues to an enthusiastic reception from the crowd. While the heavy chords and solid beat lay down the foundations for the song, it’s the reverb laden lead guitar that cuts through the room and exhibits the surf rock influence on the bands unique style of music. Eventually the song reaches its epic climax and it degenerates into an assault or searing feedback as the band destroy their instruments. Guitarist Josh sends his mic flying into the drum kit along with his guitar that followed soon after. Bassist Jake commandeers one of the cymbals and immediately begins grotesquely playing his bass with it, smashing it repeatedly against his strings. Once all the band members have vacated the stage, he too drops his instrument (including the symbol) and leaves everyone drowning in a sea of feedback.
The Black Tambourines are definitely a band to see live, whose renditions of their studio songs are played at twice the speed with twice as much energy. As for the verdict on the show at Sticky Mike’s, it comes as no surprise that The Black Tambourines truly, utterly and quite literally smashed it.
By Matt Austin