Sharks + Crowns + The Catharsis @ The Rainbow, Birmingham – Tuesday 27th March 2012

Usually when you go to see a band, it’s pretty easy to name two or three comparable ones within seconds of the first notes ringing out. With Sharks, I really struggled to pick the most apt comparison, even after they left the stage. The reason for this, however, is that rather than being an act whose style defies any pigeonholing, they just sound like a LOT of other bands. Sadly, not any particularly memorable ones.

Miserable start to a review, yes? Yes. Sometimes though, that’s just the way she goes, and my opinion was certainly not the opinion of the room. It was a really busy night for The Rainbow, and talking to a few people I got the impression that a lot of customers had travelled much further than myself to be here tonight. Unfortunately, I missed, The Catharsis, but was told by reliable individuals that were present that they were, ‘loud’ and ‘heavy,’ with ‘lots of screaming.’ Thanks for that, guys. Those simple assets would definitely have endeared them to me though, and I assume they offered a bit of balls to a gig that was a little twee for my tastes.

Second on the bill, Cornish boys, Crowns sprang onstage donning leather jackets and an apparent ignorance of the last 20 years. I’m being horrid; they were OK, confidently bashing out plugged-in folk-punk for half an hour, being disgracefully young and handsome, and struggling with onstage banter (e.g the singer announced he was glad to be in Birmingham for the first time, before being corrected by a bandmate- they had been here before). Upbeat and enjoyable in a Flogging Molly-ish way, they got a great response from the crowd and even though it wasn’t my cup o’ tea, they did good. Finally, and importantly, they looked like they were having a great time from start to finish, and if we were employing a star-based rating system, that alone would gain Crowns’ performance an extra star. But we aren’t. So it doesn’t.

Its tempting to try and construct some sort of shark-based, extended metaphor to review tonight’s headliners, but I’m confident that it would fall flat for one reason. Sharks (the mammals) are bad-asses. They scare the shit out of me. Sharks, (the band) are not; at least their sound isn’t. They’ve toured with Gallows and Fucked Up, two of the biggest, current Punk/Hardcore outfits in the public eye, which gave me an indication of what they might sound like, but the reality was a much softer experience. All in black, entrance music, endless preening and grinning told me that they were pretty sure of themselves before a chord was struck, and when it was I was a bit surprised. Tight as you could ask for, their endurance of the entire Warped Tour and some significant stints with the aforementioned bands really shows, yet the noise you expect from a band with such credentials is, quite simply, not this.

As I said, making comparisons is very difficult, and I don’t want to start lumping Feeder comparisons in right at the end (oops…), just don’t let the black leather fool you. Sharks aren’t punk, your mum might like them though.

Review – Jake Dowding

Photos – Alex Dean

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