In aid of Independent Venue Week
On a characteristically baltic Saturday night in Edinburgh, people queue outside Sneaky Pete’s, waiting to be shoveled inside. It is a sold out show and Sneaky’s is unforgiving in space. The venue hugs the crowd and holds them together in its tight, sweaty grip. By the time it’s done with you, you’re unsure what to do with your slightly mucky self.
Edinburgh post-punks Cheap Teeth reflect Sneaky’s nature through their grit; the band dispel the sternness that sometimes accompanies the typically ‘cool’ post-punk image. They take to the stage with a charming confidence to the sound of Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll Part 2. There is a collective sigh of relief as the band makes it obvious they don’t take themselves too seriously, inviting us to join in their unexpected humour.
Glitter fades and the band immediately assert themselves with new track ‘No Concept’. The lead vocalist Joe Laycock delivers his lyrics with the emotion of a Nick Cave tragedy and concludes them with a Jonathan Richmanic style lighthearted question. Therein lies the beauty of Cheap Teeth; it is hard to gauge how they want their audience to react emotionally. They can leave you hanging in a delightfully glazed coma before shaking you alive once more into the embrace of a mosh pit. Cheap Teeth want their crowd to feel as though they are on a tightrope, balancing sentiments. Tonight they achieve this, until you are knocked off the tightrope entirely with their ‘70s post-punk angs and the dirty grip of western guitar rock drones, to once again be scooped up by unexpected cinematic organ fills.
Firm favourite, ‘Vicar’s Fingers’ is eagerly welcomed to the point that the crowd seem ready to jump on stage with them. “But she said, where will we go when we die?” demands Laycock; an existential question that is left for another evening while we headbang the thought away. ‘Wider Chicane’, Cheap Teeth’s most recent release, is received with an equally friendly embrace as we gear up to its underlying beats. The unsettling dynamic throughout the set is what captivates and holds the crowd, who are powerless in Cheap Teeth’s sweaty pocket. They are minimal in style but loud in presence. Their tracks are unique and wonderfully weird, yet each one manages to feel like an old favourite within the first few seconds; like a Bob Dylan track that’s had a rough, but well-needed night out. Cheap Teeth’s sound is instantly memorable and, whilst their songs may first appear as complex poems, they are delicate observations, that smash through murky windows and allow you to step inside.
Pouring out of the venue, the crowd leaves with a feeling of real satisfaction. It is over-indulgence, but the taste of Cheap Teeth’s brand of grittiness cannot be flossed away.
Image: Cameron Maclean