The Sunflower Lounge
Review by Ian Paget
Arriving in Birmingham for a sold-out show at the Sunflower Lounge, young Los Angeles garage-punk quartet The Regrettes should be on a high as their UK tour continues to go from strength to strength, but things are derailed when the band’s touring van containing all of their belongings is stolen from right outside the venue before the doors open. With such a setback you’d forgive the band if they seemed downhearted, but frontwoman Lydia is adamant that the show must go on. “We want to make sure everybody has a good memory here, so fuck it, let’s have fun, let’s dance. Material things don’t matter, we have each other and we have some cool music to play for you”.
She’s not wrong. From the second they walk onstage and let fly with album opener ‘I Don’t Like You’, The Regrettes are as cool as it gets, mixing retro punk-pop with the harmonies and simple catchy style of girl groups from the 60s to great effect on the bouncy ‘Hey Now’. “I can see a little bit of dancing but I think we can do better?” Lydia encourages the crowd, who are happy to oblige by keeping pace with new drummer Drew’s fast and thrashy playing.
New song ‘Come Through’ is dedicated to “the assholes who stole our van”, but by the time it’s finished the band seem as if they’ve forgotten about it and are focused on having fun playing. Guitarist Genessa leads ‘Picture Perfect’ with a dark riff whilst Lydia makes her way into the audience and gets everyone to crouch down with her before jumping up as the track kicks back in, aping Salt-N-Pepa’s classic ‘Push It’.
Asking the girls in the crowd to make their way to the front of the stage for ‘A Living Human Girl’, there’s a large number of young females already dancing and clapping along to the chirpy Ronettes-esque verse that tackles self-image and security. ‘Red Light’ has more of a modern sound with sharp punky guitars and a dash of The Strokes’ stylish approach, whilst the opening riff of ‘Seashore’ draws cheers of approval from the audience as they sing the words back at the band.
After the thrashy punk of ‘You Won’t Do’ the set closes with an excellent cover of The Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ as Lydia splits the room in two to sing the backing parts. “You know what to do…” she tells them, and the night ends with everyone jumping as the track comes to a close.
Clocking in at just half an hour, tonight’s set feels short, but it’s an excellent performance from a band who look to be rising fast and that they are able to perform to such a high standard in the wake of such a personal blow is a huge credit to them. Hopefully their belongings can be recovered and returned to them before the end of the tour and the incident doesn’t leave too much of a black mark on what should be a triumphant run of shows for the band.
Reading’s Valeras sound on top form this evening and the band’s three-pronged guitar attack on the self-titled opener ‘Valeras’ starts their set off on a high. Powerful vocals from singer/bassist Rose shine over the atmospheric guitars on ‘The Mask’ and ‘Painkiller’ and the band seem to interlock their parts with ease, resulting in a highly textured sound which fits together like a jigsaw. ‘Louder’ is one of the poppier tracks which works really well, and hopefully there’s plenty more to come from Valeras.
Local support comes from alt-rock trio Echo Gecco, who play a comprehensive set taking in blues, indie and classic rock sounds with confident delivery from captivating frontman Josh. ‘All Over The Shop’ lives up to its name, switching from jazz and funk sections to heavier riffs and patchwork melodies and is an interesting curveball that shows off the various styles the band is capable of. With plenty of action on the live circuit lately they’ll no doubt be able to hone their style further and become even more established.