NME Generation Next: Howler, Cast Of Cheers and Gross Magic: The Leadmill, Sheffield

For some reason the small room at the Leadmill felt a little bit retro, a crowd complete with man quiffs and moody girls that appeared to have been transported out of a John Hughes film and I had that Clerks feeling that I was ‘not even supposed to be here today’, of which I wasn’t.

Having stepped into cover at the last minute I’d missed Gross Magic and arrived just as Cast of Cheers stepped on stage. Now I’ve never heard Cast of Cheers music. I’ve avoided them for so long, simply because it brings about memories of Ted Danson and Kelsey Grammer in a place where ‘everyone knows your name’, it confuses me.

Kicking off with Human Elevator followed by Pocé Mitt they were bouncing around and I wanted to bounce around with them: they were good; they sounded good, like really good. With their lucid robotic sounds and frontman Connor’s rolling vocals providing an infectious beat, it was hard not to stand still, though as I looked around there was something adrift. The girls on the front were just stood staring with no emotion, was I missing something? Not even the divine Animals with its lulling throbbing bass and its enchanting beats or Family with its zippy riffs and toned frets could move them.

Cast of Cheers have a bit of everything, they’re not indie pop but they fuse the two with the added extra of an infectious edge, it’s easy to see why they’ve been compared with early Foals and Battles.

Oh! Now the miserable looking girls move, in fact they manage to crack a smile and the perfect pout as Howler jump on stage, make a joke about not having a drummer and then the drummer appears sticks in hand and ready to go. I think I missed the joke, but what I didn’t miss was their set.

Whilst the room was filling with a mix of oestrogen and cheap perfume, the sounds from the stage were coming in hard and fast. It seems once again like we’ve all taken a step back in time. With their surf fuelled version of what could be rock ‘n’ roll, they let loose and go a bit crazy, as do the crowd. A mini mosh pit full of flicked hair, skinny jeans wearing boys in cardigans skip and jump around in the tight space. Amusing to watch but we’re here for the music, bashing through track after track including
14 Days, I Told You Once, America, Too Much Blood, Beach Sluts and Back of Your Neck the Howler boys know how to keep the crowd amused. There are sing- a-longs, a semi-naked guitarist and a brash, fun and catchy set.

Each track infuses a different moment and a different place. With their songs filled with angst ridden teenage experiences, Howler could easily have gone down the Dawson’s Creek route of vomit inducing soul tearing tunes but they didn’t and for this we are all thankful.

As a magazine the NME may be failing in some parts, but with their choice of bands for the Generation Next tour it seems that they can still pick out some good ones to watch.