Exeter’s The Computers are not what you expect. In their pristine white wardrobe and slicked quiffs, they do not give the impression that they are about to give by-now veterans of raw live carnage Pulled Apart By Horses a run for their money. But that’s exactly what The Computers proceed to do, despite frontman Alex Kershaw’s sweat-bedraggled fringe lending him a passing resemblance to teen emo heartthrob Pete Wentz. They roar out a whirlwind of rockabilly screamo, with not a bead of sweat wasted in goading the crowd into a moshy, shouty, riffy, mass of excitement. But the excitement’s not just for them – Kershaw is intent on excelling in his job warming us up for the headliners, and it’s a task he utterly relishes. You could even be forgiven for thinking, with the amount of jumping off equipment that’s going on, that you’ve stumbled on a more highly coiffured version of Pulled Apart by Horses.
But the audience, full of wide-eyed teenaged grins is only here for one band, and they don’t have a dress code. Pulled Apart By Horses just need one song to create a heaving morass of bodies in front of them, and live anthem ‘I Punched a Lion in the Throat’ fits the bill. It’s the new stuff we want to hear though – how will PABH’s new, more polished album ‘Tough Love’, sound live against that background of raw energy that’s their calling card? The answer is with just as much raw energy as they always have done. They power through ‘Wolf Hand’, giving it a whole darker edge than on the album, as vocalist Tom Hudson rasps his way through his throwaway lyrics: being a dick? Check. Crazy shit? Yup. It’s like a calling card for their antics – why else would you go and see PABH?
Well it turns out they’re pretty impressive at the soundtrack to these antics, and that’s a brilliant reason to go and see them too. Their scuzzy credentials make it easy to miss how far this band have come on since their first album. Somehow they manage to be slick and polished, without sounding slick and polished. The extra layers to the songs come alive on stage, each one a powerhouse in its own right: well-toured songs like ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ and ‘E=MC Hammer’ have grown so they’re even more – well – stupidly visceral. Hudson lurches into ‘V.E.N.O.M’ on pure adrenaline, and brand new ‘Epic Myth’ and ‘Bromance Ain’t Dead’ appear to be the gifted yet very naughty children resulting from the band taking their early 90s grunge influences roughly from behind during a debauched evening out on far too much Bourbon. Yet it’s the band’s ability to craft their songs live, all four of them playing off each other, for each part of each song that’s the essence of PABH’s devastating live reputation, and that’s exactly what’ll make sure that it ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.