Diet Cig + The Spook School @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh 17/10/2017
Don’t be spooked by The Spook School
It’s time to catch up with two bouncy indie pop bands within Edinburgh’s most intimate (read: tiny) music venue Sneaky Pete’s.
The first band on are longtime local live scene favourites The Spook School. However, despite being a support act tonight they are effectively treated as co-stars, with a clearly dedicated crowd huddled around the tiny stage. They are a lively and unpretentious four-piece, somewhat reminiscent of The Buzzcocks, Ash and Joanna Gruesome. According to their Wikipedia page, the group met through the University of Edinburgh Comedy Society. That might explain the drummer’s crazy moustache.
While their music isn’t particularly innovative it’s enjoyably tuneful and uptempo. The best song they played in last night’s set was “Binary”, an incredibly catchy hymn to acceptance of fluid gender identities. One of their most interesting aspects is that three of the four band members share guitar and vocal duties. They all take turns at being lead vocalist, with the other two providing backing harmonies during the choruses. This collectivist ethic works well, giving the material a sense of momentum and variety as they hurtle through their half-hour set.
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Definitely not on a diet in terms of music and onstage energy
Diet Cig are an even bouncier, sunnier and more energetic band than The Spook School, and again have a certain Joanna Gruesome feel. However, in this case it revolves around one larger-than-life personality: guitarist/vocalist Alex Luciano. She’s about as spectacular an onstage sight as it is possible to have in such a constrained venue, strumming and high-kicking her way back and forth across a stage hardly big enough to swing a swing a cat around, all the while beaming a frankly uplifting smile at the audience. Add to that the occasional jump onto the speaker and base drum, along with a brief wander into the crowd, and it’s clear she’s one to throw her all into the proceedings.
Her between-song banter is just as enjoyable; she asks people in the audience to raise their hands if their crush is in the audience. A couple in the corner near the stage are the only people to do so, to which she points out “there’s a little cluster of crushiness over there”. She’s almost impossible to dislike. Drummer (and second band member of a two-person unit) Noah Bowman might be consigned to the background visually, but is just as lively in his own way as he provides an effective rhythmic underpinning to Alex’s life-affirming spontaneity.
Tonight’s show at Sneaky Pete’s may have been small-scale, and the sets relatively short; even headliner Diet Cig seemed to be over fairly quickly with no encore. However, smaller doesn’t necessarily mean less beautiful.
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