It has almost been 9 months since Muncie Girls gifted us their superb debut album From Caplan to Belsize. Ever since the band have been touring their socks off, playing the world and elsewhere. Having already been incredibly impressed by their show supporting Tellison in April, I was ready for a Muncie Girls’ headline show and, with them accompanied by a couple of very promising noisy pop bands, it should prove to a great start to the weekend.
First up are HAPPY ACCIDENTS, whose spirited twee punk is what early Los Campesinos! would sound like if they scaled back and were more constrained to the two and half minute long verse chorus format. There are no ‘You! Me! Dancing!’s in Happy Accidents’ set yet. Their songs are zippy and nobly played, their drummer especially being spot on with the ever-changing tempos. Before starting ‘Quiet’ singer Rich Mandell recounts the surreal story of their last appearance in Birmingham, where they were playing a metal bar where the crowd comprised solely of top-hatted old guys looking at them disapprovingly with Nickelback and Slipknot played over the PA in between bands. While that may not have been their scene, at The Cellar they get a way warmer reception. Great stuff.
WOAHNOWS have been impressing those in the know for a while now. Their noisy poppy indie punk gets an instant reaction from those assembled with their start-stoppy starter ‘Watching Accidents’. There is a humility and subtle humour to their banter, either unaware or consciously disregarding how well they are rocking the place. Despite this, their entire set also seems to act as a soundcheck, as after every song there is something audio-wise that is asked to be altered. So by the time the band play their last song the peppy kinetic ‘Puncher’ they sound perfect, triggering some actual movement from the threadbare crowd.
With little in the way of preamble MUNCIE GIRLS hit the stage. ‘Learn In School”s opening riff barely leaves room to breath,a couple seconds in and frontperson Lande Hekt launches into her opening volley. Its chorus (“All my life I’ve felt let down/And that’s perhaps why we feel safer underground”) proves an early chance for singalong from those dedicated few at the front. After the Plath-inspired ‘Gas Mark 4’, the band throw in a handful of pre-album tracks; the jagged Jawbreaker-esque chords of ‘Everyday’ energise the crowd while the striking bass-led introduction to ‘Railroad’ is a signal for further low-end virtuosity.
Mid-set the band slow for a couple of songs, the first being the lovely reflective ‘Social Side’. The second ‘Five Miles’ Hekt plays solo, a song that paints a tale of welfare state incompetence inspired by life experiences of Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend, and in its acoustic socio-political hue recalls Billy Bragg at his balladeer best. Due to the guitar changes for these songs all the energy Muncie Girls had generated thus far is sucked away. But Luke Ellis’ almost-Adam-and-The-Ants-ian drumfill intro on ‘Nervous’ soon puts the band back on track, cemented further by a killer guitar solo from Dean McMullen. From then on it’s a spectacular race to the finish with the infectious sugar-rush of ‘Gone With The Wind’ quickly one-upped by their absolute pinnacle, anti-lads-culture anthem ‘Respect’. After that there is no need for an encore, Muncie Girls have already outdone themselves. Now all that needs to be done is await their return in 2017.