Cold Hands, My Kid Robot

Alex Nelson 09/09/0010

Tonight, primary Norwich garage-thugsters Cold Hands are showcasing songs from their as yet untitled new EP, due out around about November time. This is the first time in a matter of months university constraints have relaxed to allow Cold Hands to put on their trademark show of chaotic flailings, and excitement among the limited but oh so exclusive crowd is palpable.

First up though, My Kid Robot get the small gathering of people warmed up nicely with their take on the power-punk duo setup. Indeed, Matt (guitar) and Dean (drums, both vocals) deliver a set of loud guitars, crushing refrains and infused energy. From the opening of 'Not Listening' to the closing of 'You've Lost', the set is a constant bundle of vehemence, Matt continually bouncing on the spot to the duo's potent punk-grunge hybrid - which lies somewhere in the middle of Blood Red Shoes, Nirvana and The Cribs - pausing only momentarily to catch his breath again or to wipe beads of sweat from his brow or breath heavily into the mic. It's clear from tonight's display that the pair have come on leaps and bounds since I first saw them, way back in the latter part of 2009 in a sleepy restaurant lobby (a review of which I believe can be found in the archives of this very blog, should you choose to look it up), both in terms of technical and song writing abilities.

Cold Hands take to the stage next and, as you would expect from a band whose titular trade name is derived from Atlanta scratch-punk sillies Black Lips' song of the same name, open their lo-fi barrage on the world. The set is littered with cuts from aforementioned forthcoming EP, and from the tracks on offer tonight, there is a definite clear cut difference between the Cold Hands of old and the Cold Hands of new. The new songs seem longer, more thought out and expansive than the older material. Perhaps representing an evolution in the band or a new found, dare we say it, maturity within the group. There's even a case of instrument swapping in tonight's set, usually reserved for only the most magniloquently bombastic of bands, with drummer Moses Whitley exchange sticks for strings with guitarist Cameron for a couple of songs. There's no real discernable shift in style, when this occurs, but again it exhibits the band's new found ability to experiment with setups and structures.

One criticism this reviewer does have, and it's a niggling point, is that the set list choice could've been better. As good as the new songs are, a bunch-up of them towards the middle of the set only serves to decimate the raucous energy established in the first half of the set, and it seems to grind to a lumbering halt and become a bit of a repetitive drone. But for any of you worrying that Cold Hands have all grown up and gotten boring though, that illusion is soon broken, as Cameron prematurely literally thrashes the guitar off his shoulders in a blind fury and kicks out sharply in a clatter of effects pedals and tumbling amps, before realising his band still have two songs as yet unplayed. And one of those songs is one of Cold Hands' crowning glories in the shape of the expeditive '126', which culminates in a flurry of tremolo strumming and foot pedal spamming, Cameron resting his guitar upon his amp and cutting the resulting howl of feedback short with a purposefully placed boot of his shoe, once again sending his amplifier hurtling toward the dank back wall of the venue.

A reminder that Cold Hands can create and destroy in equal beauty then.