Words by Max Taylor
Fresh off the release of their megalithic new an album, Turbowolf returned to their home town of Bristol on Thursday night for a spectacular, celebratory sold out show at the Trinity Arts Centre on the 15th of March.
Bristol’s Trinity Centre, an old church currently undergoing renovation, has only recently been opened for gigs, and its size and layout are ideal for these kind of intense and intimate gigs. The natural acoustics of the church seem to shine, lending a warm shimmer of reverb to opening band Big Spring’s blend of prog metal inspired riff grooves, shoegazy jangles, distorted grungy jams, and radio friendly pseudo-Artic Monkeys vocals culminating in a somewhat familiar alternative rock sound. Stand out track ‘Buzzards Leave the Bones’ opens with proggy, syncopated heaviness which leads into a Queens of the Stone-Age style swaggering groove. Brighton’s Big Spring show promise for a young band and their tight playing, dynamic sound and clear confidence in their material and direction makes them the ideal warm up for the night’s second support band, Puppy.
Londoner’s Puppy only have two EPs under their belt but their eclectic, 90s-infused sound has amassed a cult following. Unassumingly taking the stage, looking like Jay and Silent Bob’s bowling companions, the three piece tare into Entombed; its molasses-thick opening chugs reminiscent of Deftones’ My Own Summer. Frontman and songwriter Jock Norton’s playing melds between thick, doomy riffs, occult rock evilness, heavy metal squeals and college rock soloing, while his Billy Corgan-esque yarls stand out, providing a distinct character, equal parts soothing and unsettling, at the centre of Puppy’s music. Puppy’s expertly balanced combination of sonic influences make for a constantly dynamic set, from the Weezer tinged college rock anthem ‘Forever’ to the creeping ‘Arabella’ which drips with echoes of Ghost-like 70’s rock worship, Smashing Pumpkins flavoured 90’s alt rock vibes and quintessential, heavy metal power riffing. Puppy’s set is all too short but thoroughly exhilarating, embodied by drummer Billy Price’s entertainingly exaggerated flailing and impassioned gurns, leaving the crowd palpably stoked for headliners Turbowolf.
The electrified atmosphere murmurs with praise of the support bands, growing into an anticipatory hum which surges through the crowd and builds as Turbowolf take the stage to a rapturous hometown welcome. Turbowolf’s sound is hard to categorise, their distinct sound an amalgam of all manner of guitar music influences, from Sabbath dirges and Thin Lizzy power cords, to psychedelic Latin grooves and raw punk energy, evocative of ‘The Mars Volta’ and ‘Bad Brains’. Turbowolf’s 13 song set is a perfect mix of material from their excellent self-titled debut, 2015’s groovy psychfest Two Hands, and their new infectiously hooky and relentlessly enjoyable album The Free Life. Set opener ‘Capital X’ sets the intoxicating, high energy tone, with the crowd dancing and head banging in equal measure to its rhythmic grooves and bouncy riffs. ‘American Mirrors’ showcases frontman Chris Georgiadias’ tight use of samples and madman synth chops. The compelling energy and groove builds with personal favourites ‘Cheap Magic’ and ‘Solid Gold’, while the band’s sweaty denizens gyrate and mosh side by side.
Bassist Lianna Lee Davies chats to the crowd like they’re old friends, whilst the eccentric Georgiadias humorously muses and encourages the whole room to bounce as they join in with choruses on essential tracks like ‘Good Hand’ and ‘Rabbit’s Foot’. Eloping the stage, the Zappa-esque Georgidias, clad in floral shirt and white suit, keeps the crowd at bay with a bouquet of flowers from the centre of the pit that’s now cleared around him, before retreating to the stage where old favourites including ‘A Rose for the Crows’ prove to be crowd pleasers. The crowd dance, mosh, bounce and surf over one another as the band power through song after song, culminating in an explosive performance of The Free Life’s title track which crescendos with the unceasingly energetic Georgiadias diving back into the sea of hands before him. Coming full circle, his gangly form collapses dramatically back on the stage like a preacher overwhelmed by the power of his sermon. A stage hand mimes resuscitation and drags him off stage as the crowd chuckles and raucously applauds and cheers before dispersing into the night.
Turbowolf’s new album “The Free Life” is out now on SO Recordings