LIVE: Straight Lines at Camden Barfly [15/10/12]

By Lais

Straight Lines have been enjoying critical success throughout 2012 following the release of their sophomore effort ‘Freaks Like Us’, and the subsequent appearances at a handful of home-grown festivals across the country including, but not limited to, Slam Dunk, Y Not, Redfest and Merthyr Rock. On this particularly cold night in the nation’s capital city the quartet are set to bring their infectious blend of melody driven rock and pop to the dark upper tier of Camden Barfly.

Support is delivered by Hampshire-based Yearbook and all-female four-piece Evarose; the first delivering an exciting – if not slightly confused – combination of surf-pop and Brand New-esque experimental rock. Yearbook hit all the right buttons with their quirky appeal and enchantingly awkward frontman (complete with a rather eye-catching Hawaiian style shirt); yet waver around too many musical directions to truly feel succinct. Both the opening and final track hint at something along the lines of the aforementioned Brand New or The Xcerts, but the meat of the set sits firmly within surf-pop – not quite reaching the level of the heavier sound. Despite this confusion, Yearbook are definitely an exciting prospect.

Evarose suffer from a continued onslaught of sound issues which significantly damage the overall experience. The entire set sounds as if it is being witnessed behind a screen, emanating out of the speakers with a frustratingly muffled tone. It is difficult to ascertain whether the sound levels are keeping Dannika Webber’s vocals hidden behind the supporting instruments, or whether this is the aftermath of twenty-plus dates on tour. Either way it is often impossible to hear the vocals, and the various instruments fail to provide any additional distinction.

As Straight Lines burst into opener ‘Half Gone’ it is clear that they are on form tonight. Delivering a set filled with choice tracks from both their albums, the Welsh lads are seemingly unaffected by their gruelling touring schedule. The sound issues of before are all but forgotten as Tom Jenkins’ vocals break through the easily discernible instrumentation. The vocal powerhouse who drives the sound is particularly powerful on the newer material, but the biggest crowd reaction is reserved for ‘Set Me On Fire And Feed Me To The Wolves’ and an acoustic(ish) version of ‘Runaway Now’. Although the crowd start proceedings off at a comparably slow pace, the band manage to expertly motivate until both audience and musicians alike are smiling.

Ending on ‘So Many Paths’ provides a suitably epic close to a skilfully accomplished performance; in recent months the band are clearly more comfortable delivering the larger sounds than the more simple compositions of their debut album. It remains a mystery as to why Straight Lines are yet to join contemporaries such as Deaf Havana and Twin Atlantic on the larger stages, but continuing like tonight is undoubtedly going to push them in the right direction.