Review: Glass Caves at the Zanzibar
‘Y’alright Liverpool?’ Matt of Leeds based alt-rock quartet Glass Caves asks as they take to the stage at Liverpool’s Zanzibar club. The predominantly student aged crowd are a fairly standard array of indie-level art kids: Topman Viscounts and River Island rosettes. There are turtlenecks. And lots of them.
The band has gotten some good momentum behind them already, having sold out the last four dates of their debut album tour. They’ve been featured in a recent GQ weekly playlist and have preceded their Liverpool show with a fervent busking campaign around town. ‘Any of you seen us busking on the street?’ Matt asks, and many a cheer is raised. No doubt then: this crowd is here to see Glass Caves.
The set begins with a tri-force of harmonies, a brief stab of ally-cat punctuation, before the band charge full force into a volley of distorted guitar. It’s an unexpected start to what turns out to be a very well-honed, well-polished and emotionally intensive set.
The first song goes off well enough. The band are tight yet fall apart in all the right places: producing a performance that’s sleek, refined, yet just grizzled enough to give it an air of rustic authenticity, much like Matt’s Calvin Klein authentic leather jacket. The audience are mostly passive but fair enough – it’s only the first song.
The Caves then launch into their flagship single ‘Go’ from the band’s upcoming release – ‘Alive’. Guitarist Connor is purely messianic in the right hand corner: creating pin-pricks of colour that assemble and drift across the song’s rolling intro. As Matt tears through the chorus’s searing vocal line, it begins to feel as if the rock and roll soda bottle is being shaken up violently – the hissing foam audible in a glare of feedback and fuzz.
‘This next song was written as a waltz,’ Matt proclaims before launching into a messy 3/4 ballroom banger, as things start to genuinely loosen up. Those near the stage are not immune to the odd, infectious quality of drummer Elliot’s flurry of beats – the front row punters begin to revel in shivers of pleasure, soon morphing into something resembling dancing.
“The band are tight yet fall apart in all the right places: producing a performance that’s sleek, refined, yet just grizzled enough to give it an air of rustic authenticity…”
The show then veers into more adventurous and emotionally ambiguous territory – ‘a bit more reflective,’ as Matt describes. Connor’s guitar creates long, sustained lines of golden light, like an evening raga, as the rest of the band slip into a more tender register. This stands out as the most sonically engaging moment of the night, offering a glimpse of something hidden beneath the displays of hard rock bravado.
The pause for breath doesn’t last long though: soon the Caves find themselves in the midst of the swelling chorus of ‘Let Go’. The first few rows are now past saving – great, hair-sprayed nests of hair are shaken about as if set upon by a swarm of bees. Not everybody is convinced though. One couple stand statuesque, flush against the stage, seemingly transfixed by Connor’s brown leather Chelsea boots. I can’t entirely blame them though: they are very nice shoes.
Ultimately, despite a somewhat conservative audience, Glass Caves managed to carry the evening with a tight fisted rock authority, combined with just enough scientific marvel to keep the show on the right side of interesting. A highly commendable performance from a very promising band.