LIVE: Gnarwolves / Prawn @ Underworld, London

By Ben Tipple

2014 has been one hell of a year for Brighton based punk trio Gnarwolves. Not simply content with releasing their well-received debut full-length proper, the band also enjoyed a mammoth slot on the main stage at Reading and Leeds Festival as well as finishing the year with their biggest tour to date. Gnarwolves may not yet be a household name, but if they continue along the same trajectory come 2015, they undoubtedly have a chance to become one.

As Gnarwolves move into the latter stages of their UK tour, London’s Underworld is looking busy for the main support – delivered by New Jersey’s Prawn. Difficult to categorise as the band waver from indie influenced tracks to ones that sound remarkably similar to the likes of Brand New – see ‘Prolonged Exposure’, – the five-piece manage to fully engage the onlookers. It’s immediately evident that a proportion of tonight’s crowd are here specifically to witness Prawn take to a London stage.

Their delivery is excellent, led by Tony Clark’s infallible vocals. The consistent introverted nature of the band members, reflected in their music, gives them a certain charm. It may provide a more subdued opener for the chaos that Gnarwolves are about to incite, yet it’s clear as to why Prawn have been converting listeners since the release of their 2014 ‘Kingfisher’ LP.

After a brief interval, Gnarwolves crash onto the stage with their most recent single, ‘Bottle To Bottle’. Bodies begin flying from the stage almost immediately as the band break into the track. Frontman Weeks becomes little more than an occasional sight for those towards the back of the lower tier, hidden behind wave after wave of stage invader and crowd surfer.

It’s a relentless energy – one that is mirrored in the band’s performance. Weeks has never sounded so good, despite having to dodge adoring fans throughout. Tracks from the debut full-length blend seamlessly into older material, although ‘Melody Has Big Plans’ and ‘Limerence’ still draw the biggest cheer from the crowd.

As the band return to their stage for a well-deserved encore of thrash bonus track, ‘Skate To Hell’, the crowd is at breaking point. Whipped up by Gnarwolves’ staggering performance, the audience are eagerly left wanting more at the end of a comparably short set. Ultimately though, it’s almost certain that Gnarwolves could have played their entire back-catalogue and the crowd would still be chanting for more.

Gnarwolves join the loiterers to sign merchandise as the venue empties, with both band and fan showcasing massive smiles on their faces. It’s evidence of how Gnarwolves have enveloped the underground music scene – with a professionalism that matches their on-stage energy. This professionalism is on display throughout their live performance, considered enough to push the energy through the roof with just enough anarchism to put on one fantastic show. We leave wanting more – in the best way.