LIVE: Cassels / The New Tusk @ The Waiting Room, London

By Ben Tipple

Nestled below an unassuming pub in London’s almost-trendy Stoke Newington, The Waiting Room’s dark and rustic interior provides a suitable backdrop to two of the UK underground’s most intriguing bands.

Brighton’s The New Tusk, mirror the bleak environment with their endearingly withdrawn stage presence, awkwardly addressing the crowd with monosyllabic tales of beer drinking. Their sound proves to have a greater impact, yet retains the nonchalant vibe that underpins the band’s persona.

Tonight’s headliners and brother duo Cassels are a minimalist force, driven by their overt sociopolitical lyrics. Any ambiguity is sacrificed in place of furiously delivered musical speeches delivered by the unassuming Jim Beck. Brother Loz provides the blistering backbone with his relentless drumming, the pace only slowing for the occasional charged spoken word segment.

They are remarkably comfortable on stage, even as any latecomers are forced to use the stairs as their vantage point. Their impromptu dialogue is as sharp as their sound; Jim jokingly berating his little brother for an equipment malfunction, only to be the deserving victim of instant karma. Yet nothing detracts from the brilliance of their songs and their unique sound.

There’s little emerging from the British underground that comes close to mirroring Cassels’ style. The anger of ‘Coolbox’ and ‘Hating Is Easy’ is palpable, the atmosphere switching with ease as the performance moves from between-song patter to delivery of their poignant lyrics. Their songs are deeply personal yet surprisingly universal, and with more than enough ability to match the passion, should propel Cassels forward come their debut album release.