PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH. Face Bar, Reading. 30.03.12

Tonight is real. This gig is legit. These bands mean it. From the first sandpaper scream to the last rattling cry, this is raw, honest, emotional stuff, and it’s outstanding. The sombre mood and dark music might make it permanently serious inside the Face Bar this evening, dour even, but slick hair, clean riffs and clever puns can wait, this is therapy.

Cardiff’s Goodtime Boys get the session started. The five-piece are going to get accused of cribbing notes from the new wave of US screamo acts, names like the headliners tonight, but their intelligent attack is peppered with original ideas. They owe just as much to Fugazi and ‘Bleach’-era Nirvana, have a wicked way with melody, and, although frontman Alex Pennie has to deal with two drunken idiots for the entire set, possess an intensity that’s inspirational rather than hostile. They’re the finished article and shouldn’t be playing to new ears in tiny rooms for much longer.

You get the feeling that’s exactly how Pianos Become The Teeth like it though. Their sound, a shifting, textured mix of grizzled indie, post-rock and punk, wouldn’t make sense in places much bigger than this. The Baltimore outfit thrive on the proximity (also without ever getting in people’s faces), feed off the atmosphere, and play for the passion. That they could almost be an instrumental band is testament to the power of the music but live, up close and personal, frontman Kyle Durfey is an essential cog in this machine. Tying up his skinny limbs like a puppet with its stings cut he’s a guide through the beauty and brawn of Cripples Can’t Shiver, the aptly-named Pensive, and the almost-hopeful sounding I’ll Be Damned.

On disc you get just a fraction of the depths Pianos plumb live. This is a band collectively spilling their guts, giving their all, and it’s such a rare sight these days (Note: while some in attendance might not be, I am old enough to sound this jaded, so suck it) that it’s occasionally difficult to watch. A few have to look away, most step forward and only open their eyes wider. This is therapy.

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