Every so often a band comes along that makes you question why everybody else settles for musical mediocrity when they could strive for so much more. Marmozets showed promise from the moment they burst on the scene, fresh-faced teenagers spitting venom in every direction. But last-year’s debut full length The Weird and Wonderful raised the bar not just for them, but British rock as a whole, and it’s off the back of that that they’re headlining a rammed Electric Ballroom (one of the finest clubs in London) to a totally partisan crowd.
Before the main course comes two starters of very different quality, the first of which is steak. Belgian sludgy-post-metal quartet Steak Number Eight to be precise, who immediately impress with their often-instrumental bludgeon. Frontman Brent Vanneste has an impressive howl on him when he lets rip, but for the most part it’s the thick, ripping groove riffs that course through their music that seem to make a big impression on the already surprisingly full room. There’s an unusual accessibility to them that makes their half hour on stage a resounding success – and frankly any band that end a song called ‘Dickhead’ with “banana!” screamed repeatedly deserves plaudits. They fare far better than the bizarre Thought Forms, whose long-winded droning loops fall largely on deaf ears and provoke little more than polite applause. In comparison to what came before and the thrillingly direct headliners, the lack of energy results in a damp squib of a set.
Not that anybody stood a chance coming on before Marmozets. Opening with your best and arguably most popular song is a risky move, but as soon as ‘Move Shake Hide’s opening riff pours out of the speakers, the Ballroom is electrified into action. For the next fifty minutes, a thousand people lose themselves in reckless abandon to a soundtrack of apocalyptic rock ‘n’ roll – and this really is rock ‘n’ roll, as easy to dance to as it is to kickstart a mosh pit, many of which carve open the Ballroom’s floor this evening. From there it’s a thrill ride that takes in everything from dizzying mathcore on ‘Vibetech’ (for which even the breakdown is a sing-along moment for the crowd) to gorgeous atmospheric post-rock yearning in a passionate ‘Back to You’. A symbiotic relationship is established between the band on stage and the audience, each feeding off the energy of the other.
It’s easy to forget in this maelstrom of energy how capable and talented the musicians that make up Marmozets are, intricate riffs and unusual guitar parts adding an extra dimension to their white-knuckle punk rock rush. Worth singling out for praise is drummer Josh Macintyre, who has the unenviable job of keeping the perfect chaos together in a coherent rhythm, a job he does seemingly effortlessly. His sister Becca seems somewhat lost for words between songs, perhaps overwhelmed by the crowd’s adulation, but while singing she’s a commanding presence and her ability to flit between beautiful clean singing, a towering wail and of course feral screaming is unparalleled. Highlights come thick and fast – ‘Is It Horrible’ is as deliciously scuzzy live as it is on record, for one. “Hit the Wave’ boasts a chorus so huge it would better fit arenas than this small room, but perhaps best of all is the thousand voice singalong to now-established anthem “Captivate You”.
Captivating is the perfect word to describe a brilliant set that concludes with consummate crowd-pleaser ‘Why Do You Hate Me?’ and absolute bedlam across the floor. What Marmozets bring to live music is unique and thrilling, and the quintet deserves far bigger venues to slay next time around. Their songs represent everything good about rock – they are exciting, unpredictable, uncompromising, adrenaline-charged and catchy as hell. ‘Weird and wonderful’ indeed, Marmozets are here to stay.
~ Michael Bird
Check Out Marmozets’ single “Move Shake Hide” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8ZPrdAwg3M