Howling Owl Records has been quietly making its mark on the Bristol music scene with a collective of exciting new bands and a host of releases – including a fantastic Record Store Day vinyl.
And after the raucous See No Evil on Nelson Street on Saturday, Bristol was inundated with choices for evening entertainment but thankfully, these guys made the choice plain and simple. ‘Come Dance with the Dead’ was Howling Owl’s summer bonanza to be held at The Crypt, with the line-up consisting of The Naturals, Towns, Spectres, The Big Naturals and Gumm. The free screen printed poster on arrival from artist and label co-owner Adrian Dutt was also a really nice touch.
As soon as you entered into The Crypt, it instantly evoked the feeling of a secret gig or special occasion with its arched stone walls and opposing stage areas – yep, they had two stages. Sure, it’s great to see bands in venues you know and love but witnessing them in a more unusual setting really gave it a sense of exclusivity and originality.
At around 9pm, Towns got to work with their beloved 90s lo-fi Britpop. The four-piece, hailing from Weston-super-Mare, have been gaining more and more fans thanks to their stints on tour with Paul Weller and Sulk. It’s easy to see why everyone’s getting so excited about these guys – they convey so much energy and enjoyment in their music from start to finish. ‘Heads Off’ was a particular highlight, with the crowd singing along and dancing with almost as much passion as front man James MacLucas. It’s refreshing to see a band enjoying themselves instead of the moody wannabes we so often get.
The absolute highlight of the entire night has to be the Big Naturals. As soon as the three piece begin their set, you’re met with a wall of sound unlike any you’ve ever heard. There’s punk, there’s psych rock, there’s heavy rock and even some electronica thrown in for good measure. Each member is so engrossed in their sound, you can’t help but stare and grin from ear to ear – even if you have no idea what’s going on.
Spectres recently won Artrocker’s ‘New Blood’ unsigned competition, beating off an impressive 400 other entries, so there’s plenty to expect. As they begin their set, the 90s influence is instantly noticeable with the tunes playing homage to the likes of My Bloody Valentine and former shoegaze idols. Thankfully, the guys don’t let these comparisons get the better of them and instead, put their own twist on an already oversaturated comeback genre. As frontman Joe Hatt spits ‘come a little closer’ into the mic over and over again, you’d be silly not to.
With a curfew of 11.30pm, it’s just a shame that the night had to end so early.