There was something artfully stark about Eagulls’ appearance Friday night at the Teragram Ballroom. From stage lighting absent of any color, to the black and white film projected behind the band, the overall palette was, well, simple. It gave off an industrial feel, replete with German undertones. Even the wardrobe of front man George Mitchell contributed to this aesthetic, as did the selection of the backdrop movie itself: Metropolis, the landmark 1927 German expressionist science-fiction eye candy drama. But what about the music?
The Eagulls’ set was compressed into and performed in less than one hour. Given the apparent Germanic influence, it felt like an appropriately efficient presentation, with nothing but a momentary pause between each of the twelve songs. Touring in support of Ullages (still hard to believe their band name could be anagrammed in to something that coherent), the show started with a communal chord strike that, when it rang out, took over from a prerecorded intro track without missing a beat.
Two songs deep, “Tough Luck” was a highlight. The song started with a frenetic punky intro and bass blasts from Tom Kelly, before anxiously scrambling towards a soaring guitar outro that nimbly turned on a dime mid-ascent. The near battle cry spirit of “Heads or Tails” flaunted a bit of Leedsian working man attitude. Their cover of The Human League’s “Seconds” saw the intersection of synth pop pioneers, modern UK post-punk, and included a dash of the unmistakable howling of Wu Lyf’s (and recently Luh’s) vocalist Ellery Roberts.
“Skipping” was particularly ominous, pensive, and industrial, while “My Life in Rewind” and “Euphoria” each eventually popped with bright major chords, momentarily giving way to levity. Late in the set, “Velvet” radiated strong Cure vibes, before a dreamy guitar intro bled in to “Blume”, the penultimate song of the quick and dirty show.
Mitchell slugged red wine from the bottle and otherwise flirted with flair, but relied too often (every song?) on echo effects to bolster the desperation in his vocals. In all, the performance, though dutifully executed, lacked any trace of a soulful persona. Band members barely strayed from a single listless pose, even when their songs were fixing to blow up. In many ways, the stilted energy on stage reflected the all too often inanimate energy of a non-plussed LA crowd; or that of Metropolis’ working class army who descended below an affluent city each day to toil in subterranean chambers, void of any sign of life. On the day of all things Brexit, with a British band banging about on stage, it felt appropriately grim.
Heads or Tails
My Life in Rewind