Don't Worry at Rabbit - Review
When I bought my tickets for Poorboy Promotions’s third gig, I did it because the headliner, Essex’s Don’t Worry, were signed to one of my favourite UK labels, Specialist Subject Records – home of Great Cynics, Shit Present and the UK distribution of Jeff Rosenstock. “All of these are great bands,” I thought, “so these guys must be at least okay.” Not only that, but one of the support acts was an acoustic Marigolds set from our very own Joe Maguire – so that’ll provide me with some safe familiarity at this gig, which I attended alone.
When I arrived at the venue, Rabbit, a coffee shop on Pottergate with a basement perfect for DIY gigs, I discovered that Joe had fallen ill, so the first act on stage was his last-minute replacement, Jim Higgs. Once I got over the fact that he looked exactly like my former supervisor, I began to actually listen to his set, which he played solo acoustic. His songs were heartfelt and melancholy, with a hint punk edge: he reminded me a bit of Frank Turner, but less Tory.
As I stood awkwardly near the side of the room, downing a number of £2.50 bottles of Corona (bargain!), the room really began to fill. They all looked excited, but very, very cool. Whereas I was wearing a t-shirt from Tesco and getting concerned that the amount of body heat in the room would cause me to melt. The cool/excited people were there to see “ex-Cambridge/now-Norwich” math-rock band, Reno Dakota. I had never heard of them, which makes sense, since this was their first gig in around 4 years, and 8 years since they last released any music. I suddenly found myself in the middle of a long-awaited comeback show for a band I didn’t really enjoy all that much.
Admittedly, math-rock is never a genre I really meshed with, so this band was never going to blow me away, but nevertheless, they played incredibly well considering this was their first gig in 4 years. The cool kids in the crowd seemed to love it too, singing along and cheering at the start of every song, and laughing at the frontman’s ongoing “gag” about guitar tuning. They weren’t my thing, but if you like math-rock/emo-ish sounds like American Football, you’ll like Reno Dakota.
After they finished their set, I noticed a significant reduction in crowd size, which gave me some much-needed space in the heat and allowed me some private time to familiarise myself with the new ringing sound in my ears (don’t forget to bring earplugs, kids!). Those who left though were missing out, because next up was London-based, indie rock outfit, Lightcliffe - who started out by apologising to me (in the front row) for shouting in my face for the next half hour. I didn’t mind, in fact, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot. Their playing was tight and exciting, with the members moving around the floor as they played their complex but fun indie-rock. The guys in the band were extremely friendly, handing me a handwritten download code when I bought their EP (complete with a little drawing of a whale). Check these guys out, they’re good fun.
By this point I was at least 6 beers deep; swaying slightly as the headliners Don’t Worry took to the stage. Fresh off the release of their debut album, “Who Cares Anyway?” they played the album in full, both guitarists taking turns on vocals. Their music was fun and self-deprecating, with lyrics about having no money for the tube and “going nowhere fast”. Sonically, they sounded somewhere between the Smith Street Band and the Front Bottoms, with occasional harmonised guitar lines a la Thin Lizzy. Before the set, they thanked us for sticking around, “I know most of didn’t come here to see us,” – but personally, for me, this was the highlight of my night. I will definitely try to see them live again, and so should you.
Don’t Worry’s new album “Who Cares Anyway?” is out now on Specialist Subject records, check it out.