Arts Club Theatre, Liverpool, 24-25 March 2022

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

The opening of Crawlers‘ first tour since the release of the bona fide hit Come Over (Again) was going to be a must see event, and we felt incredibly fortunate at Popped Music to be able to go and see both sold out nights at Liverpool’s Arts Club Theatre.  With Crawlers getting to craft the bills as they wanted to showcase their friends and share the party around, I felt like I was attending events rather than just gigs.

For the Thursday night show, the opening act was Torture and the Desert Spiders.  One of the hardest working bands in the Liverpool music scene, I’m used to seeing Torture, Clara and Max playing any basement that will have them.  They’re not desperate to get gigs, far from from it, they are just a unit addicted to playing live.  Frontperson Torture mixes aggressive guitar play with angst, life stories told to you through the medium of her gorgeous, passionate 1970s New York underground rock growl.  As punky and effervescent as Torture may be, Torture and the Desert Spiders are distinctly a band and the calm swagger of their rhythm section lifts them far above the sound of most “DIY” acts.  It meant that in an old theatre, the band’s sound fitted perfectly.  Hopefully this show gave them a taste of the big stage that they liked.

When I saw Beija Flo was listed on the bill for this show I was somewhere between surprised and astounded. In no way do I mean that derogatory towards Beija either.  It’s just I wondered how her elegant yet lo-fi pop music would be taken by a young, energetic audience, even if I was certain that her personality would charm the room pretty quickly.  Oh how wrong I was!  The audience loved it, even if there were a few gasps and giggles when we reached Second Hand Cock Rings in the setlist.  If you have not yet happened to find yourself at a Beija Flo gig, I’d say imagine Sleaford Mods were mixed with the kids from Fame into one human being with a MacBook, a heartfelt take on life, and a love of musical theatre.  I promise someone will throw flowers to her at the end of the show too.

For the Friday show we had a different pair of support acts keeping it fresh for anybody who was lucky enough to bag tickets for both nights.  The first was Abi Rose Kelly.  The last time I watched Abi and her band was in the beer garden of a pub in the weird summer of 2020.  For me, she has moved on tremendously since then with a performance that was aimed at everybody in the room rather than just focusing the attention on the group of fans near the front who were obviously into her music before this show.  I was a little bit disappointed with the quality of the sound for her set because I felt her vocals sunk into the mix and were mashed up with the sound of the band – and I know from popping in during soundcheck to see some friends that Abi can sing fantastically.

The friends that I’d popped into Arts Club to see were Gen and the Degenerates, the final of the support bands Crawlers had put on the bill.  Their set was a whirlwind of chaotic energy, rock n roll, and big tunes.  With recent single Girl God Gun getting the first airing since its release, there was a noticeable reaction to it from the audience, and by the time the band reached their set’s climax with Burn Your Pedestals, a blast of iconoclastic fury overlaid by a tornado of guitar, bass, and drums, Gen and the Degenerates had taken the sweetest, politest audience I’ve ever come across into a frenzy ready to take down abusers, users, and their enablers like the people of Bristol with a statue of a slave trader!

It would be remiss of me to review these two shows without a mention for Crawlers’ fanbase who were in attendance.  With the influence of social media causing people to be competitively angry, and the nature of Stan culture to create tunnel vision to only their favourite artists and see any other music existing as an affront to their favourites (shout out to the Lady Gaga Stand in my DMs threatening me for buying a Sports Team album the other year), it was incredible to see an audience so supportive of everybody who appeared in front of them.  Yes, they were all there to see Crawlers and celebrate the unity and friendship which has been built on a variety of socials, but they were able all there to have fun and experience the best that live music has to offer.  It was an absolute pleasure to be there with them.

Now on to Crawlers…. If you think that Crawlers are seeing success now just because of their social media presence then I’d like to show you to the door marked wrong.  Crawlers have a strong and vibrant social media presence because they make banging rock tunes with lyrics that people connect with, and Crawlers make people realise that the problems that outsiders have are shared with all the other outsiders.

There are two messages that constantly seem to be hit home; firstly that it is understandable if sometimes or even all the time you feel troubled; but secondly you are not alone in feeling that way.  You can feel happy, sad, uncertain, confused, terrified, or filled with righteous fury – but even if you live in the smallest town in the middle of nowhere, you can find a connection with people.

Seeing Holly dancing around on stage waving a trans flag on Thursday and a pride flag on Friday let’s all the queer kids in the room know that they are all in it together.  It is not just in the fields of sexuality and gender that Crawlers are there to help people find kinship. Messages from the band go out before the show asking people to take care of the people around them in the packed, scorching hot room, to take into account the feelings and needs of others.  The old gammon punks would probably claim it is political correctness gone made, but what is more punk rock than creating gigs that anybody and everybody feel at home at.  Stick your gatekeeping up your arse!

A Crawlers show though is not a political rally.  It is fun!  It is so much fun.  The musicianship of the band is fantastic as they work in tight blasts of delightful rock songs, culminating with Placebo – my favourite whenever they play live.  New song I Can’t Drive sounded fantastic live too and nobody seemed uncertain of the words despite only being out a couple of days.  Every song though lifts the room, delights the room.  Even their planned encores don’t see me complain (which isn’t always the case, I hate planned encores).  But they didn’t come back on stage when the show finished properly despite the clamour – and I love them for that.

I love seeing how much Crawlers have grown on stage in a matter of months too.  The cringe jokes and self-deprecation have been tweaked to show more of an understanding of Crawlers place in the hierarchy.  They are confident, proud, and know exactly what is expected of them when so many people have turned up to watch them play their great songs.

Crawlers are now leaders, and leadership looks good on them.  You might get to check out how good it looks when they open for My Chemical Romance this summer before they head to America for things like Lollapalooza….

Crawlers, the world is yours for the taking.  If you want it, I really hope you take it.

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  • About Popped Music

    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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