15th June | Rough Trade
Photos: Mar Reyes
On their first full-length, US trio, Moaning captured their personality across a well-nurtured and meticulous record. Their ability to find the right balance between raw, unbridled expression and layered, polished craft allowed them to make a record that evoked strong emotion and have it sound impactful to match. Now heading over to the UK for the first time, in support of the aforementioned record, the trio strip themselves of their polished nature on record for something more agitated and integrally melancholic, finding another way of evoking the foreboding ethos of their music.
Treeboy and Arc are an incomprehensibly loud and intense live group, while being melodic and compelling. The whole band are enrapturing; Ben Morgan and James Kay spend half the set with their heads at their knees while conjuring thick, whirring noise from their guitars. There is charm to this band, perhaps hinting at a tongue-in-cheek nature to their music.
The vocals are delivered with attitude and charisma, while the rhythm jaunts and bounces as much it sears noisily. The guitars whirl and are furiously driven, yet are layered and understated at the same time, much like the spritely and incessant bass lines. It’s a supremely well-put-together live performance, presenting the melodic capabilities of their music, while being furiously animated and arresting.
“We’re Leeches, and this is the last time we’ll play this set,” announces Ben Lowe, a definitive introduction to a group that have thrived live since the release of their second EP on Leisure Records. If this really is the last time we witness all these songs performed, we do so at a time when the group are at their well-honed best. The harmonies are on point, Ben’s coo impressively weaved amongst Jack Pearce’s direct howl, as Frank Waloszek really lets loose behind the kit while bearing the biggest of grins. They’ve consistently impressed as a live band, and with new music in the works, the band will no doubt enhance their set even further.
Being vigorous and raucous, whilst still capturing the emotional value of their melodies, is what you’d imagine Moaning aim for, and they do with relative success. ‘ Don’t Go’ is delivered with exasperation, Sean Solomon raspy and practically growling the chorus as he raises his guitar behind his head as if reaching for some higher state. While the trio are a very polite and genial group, they leave the music to do the talking and it speaks more for doing so.
Yet when they reach the midway point, the tender lementations are lost in Solomon’s slightly out-of-tune vocal. There’s no doubt it’s genuine and heartfelt in its melancholy, yet it’s jarring. Nevertheless, they sound caustically powerful, the guitars capturing the solemn atmospherics of their songs while the rhythm section delivers on their driven aggravation.
When they play their more vigorous numbers, it does strike with more impact. They sound a lot more grungy live than on record, the clarity of their recordings replaced with something dingier and more lethargic. While undoubtedly an incisive group, when performing live, Moaning need to be able to find that cutting edge once again that permeated their debut record.