The UK sonic powerhouse known as Eagulls, popped over to this side of the pond to grace NYC for the one singular US show as the very first show of the tour to celebrate the release of their second album Ullages before jumping back over to their home ground of Leeds to start off their proper tour of Europe. I remember first experiencing this stunning band in a packed LES show at Pianos for CMJ a few years back. Despite the show being stacked with some of my favorite indie label bands, this band bowled me over like a tsunami wiping away an ant on the shore. The sonic power this band emits is like getting hit by the Death Star’s planet annihilating beam, and that is not a performance you walk away from fully intact. However, they don’t just produce some indiscriminate weapon of mass sonic destruction, their soundscapes are one of complexity and aggression, like the best parts of punk and shoegaze sandwiched together with intense flavor and a savory wallop.
Opening the show was the local quartet The Britanys, who are a bowl full of good garagey charm and fuzzy rock. They produce a jangley indie pop with a surf rock bounce amid a hazy lo-fi garage and a brit-rock slickness of even classic British invasion bands like the Kinks. The just dropped a new album called Basketholder, and I look forward to rocking out with this band again soon.
Eagulls are a hard band to describe, but when people ask, I often come to describe them as something like another one of my favorite bands, the great Joy Division. The heavy, driving, almost possessed baselines are for sure familiar to fans of that classic band, and so is the deeply sad and unrelenting melancholy tone of their songs in general. However, it is the vocal tones and just the general presence of frontman George Mitchell that makes the comparison so complete. That deep overpowering baritone that mesmerizes and then crushes you is really only different from Ian Curtis’ vocals by a tiny hop and a layer or two of echoed reverb, and to reach that level of demonic vocal presence is nothing short of stunning, on record but especially on live stage. Also, the way Mitchel sways about the stage in a spellbound state as he sings may not be the spastic Ian Curtis freak-outs of yore, but they do convey a similar intensity and presence.
Their gothy post-punk presence on their self-titled debut had me hooked from the first listen, but now, they have a momentous hill to climb to really prove themselves with this second album. I can attest that they showed themselves to be an even more breathtaking experience this time around, despite this being the first show of the tour. If they were nervous about being on stage together again after a short time away from the stage, they certainly showed no signs of it this night. The new material sounds brilliant, although a bit different from their debut. The new tracks that filled the set this night are still gloomy and sonically dense, but also have a bit of an edgier anger brewing in the hopeless sorrow, perhaps showing a tad more of their precise punk side showing in the process. The dark lighting of the show only personified the deep gloom of their melodic soundcapes, but this time around they even came packing the extra visual element of the 1927 silent black and white film Metropolis projected on a screen behind them throughout to personify the surreal despair of their music. They started off the show with an impressive new one called “Lemontrees,” but they then quickly busted into songs into the first album like “Tough Luck,” “Yellow Eyes,” and “Nerve Endings,” before returning to a mix of new and old. They even surprised the crowd with a The Human League cover of “Seconds,” which was spellbinding to me, perhaps even showing off their 80’s new wave side. I can’t wait till they plan to come back through the big apple around festival season later this year, and I’ll be waiting with my special acoustic filtered earplugs and my dancing shoes.
Article: Dean Keim