LIVE: The Faim / Woes / Charming Liars @ Arts Club, Liverpool

By Gem Rogers

Sitting in the city’s bustling and trendy Ropewalks district, Liverpool’s Arts Club takes residence in an unassuming old building a stones throw from copious bars and beer gardens (not that we’ve quite got the weather for using outdoor spaces today). Tonight, we’re in the venue’s Loft room, an intimate space entirely designed to generate sweat, to see a young Australian band who barely seem to have stopped to breathe in the last eighteen months – and with only two weeks to go until the eagerly awaited release of The Faim’s debut album, this could be one of our last chances to see the foursome in a room this size.

The task of opening the evening goes to Los Angeles newcomers Charming Liars, whose own debut album ‘Thought, Flesh and Bone’ was released earlier this year. Their stadium alt rock songs have a dreamy sound and edge that makes them feel like the offspring of Panic! At The Disco and The 1975, and it goes down very well with the early crowd; it’s not always exciting, but the band are tight and it’s hard to resist nodding along with these big, poppy choruses. With a broad appeal and radio-friendly sound, it seems likely we’ll be hearing more from Charming Liars in future.

Scottish pop-punkers Woes are becoming a familiar sight on the UK touring circuit; as well as a headliner earlier this year in support of debut ‘Awful Truth’, the four piece opened State Champs’ huge UK and Europe run last year, and have tours with Trash Boat and With Confidence coming up in the next few months. Their spirit can’t be denied and their half hour on stage is jammed with energy that quickly spreads through the room, but the delivery is somewhat lacking. Though their haphazard and scrappy performance is in some ways endearing and matches the heart of their punchy pop-punk, there’s unfortunately a minefield of missed and flat notes to navigate through that makes the set difficult to enjoy. A little more polish, and Woes could be onto something – they’re just not quite there yet.

Tonight’s show is part of The Faim’s third visit to our shores in less than a year; no mean feat for a band from quite literally the other side of the world. With only one EP to their name, it would be easy to assume that this is a band with nothing new to show after so many visits in quick succession – but as they open with a fresh sounding ‘Midland Line’ to a cacophony of cheers and screams from the eager crowd, tired is the last word that could be used to describe what follows.

As the set rolls through a new selection of tracks both old and new, what’s striking is this band’s versatility; from the triumphant beat and huge hooks of EP track ‘My Heart Needs To Breathe’ to the electropop of debut single ‘Saints Of The Sinners’, and the heavier, darker bass riffs of new song ‘Tongue Tied’ to the gentle beauty of ‘Make Believe’, The Faim seemingly refuse to be chained to a single sound. There is a consistent pop influence, but each track brings its own clear identity, and it makes for an exciting live show – and it says something about how beloved and familiar this band already are as a room full of voices sing along with a host of tracks that are still yet to be released.

From start to finish, the performance of the four on stage leaves no room for doubt as to why their popularity has boomed since they first set foot in Europe last year. Newer members Sam Tye, who joined on guitar last summer, and drummer Linden Marissen now look like they’ve been part of the band for years, forming a tight group with vocalist Josh Raven and bassist/keyboardist Stephen Beerkens and looking like they are having nothing short of the time of their lives. They are, quite simply, unbelievably enjoyable to watch; Beerkens looks like he couldn’t be happier to be on stage, and though Raven can seem a little shy between songs, when the music kicks in he is transformed with non-stop movement and stage presence (including a dash of mid-song scaffold climbing).

Most importantly, this band sound flawless. Not only do they have fun with the music – Beerkens dropping some church organ effects on keys feels almost like an in-joke for fans who’ve seen them previously – but they are sublimely tight, while Raven’s vocals soar through the room with not a single note out of place as he conveys staggering emotion with ease. Easily one of the best vocalists in alternative music today, Raven could sing just about anything and make it sound great – chuck in songs as good as the effervescent ‘Infamous’ and ‘Amelie’, with its final chorus that rips through the air like a whirlwind, and you’re onto a winner.

Tonight’s set is kept to a relatively short 45 minutes, and despite the sweltering temperature making fresh air sound like an absolute blessing, there’s definitely a sense that everyone in the room would be willing to stay and sweat to the point of evaporation if it meant a few more songs. Sadly, all good things really must come to an end, and as the final chorus of ‘Summer Is A Curse’ rings out, we can be confident that we’ve just seen a band who are about to take over the world. Be ready.