November still, and a Monday night no less. The crowd in King Tuts is exceptionally thin, which is a shame. Tonight’s gig features a trio of trios: Exeter’s Muncie Girls taking the headlining slot while Woahnows and Happy Accidents form the support. It’s a veritable who’s who of up-and-coming British indie-punk, and bound to be a fun night.
Seemingly impervious to the poor attendance, Happy Accidents are the first act onstage, upbeat and bouncing around from the first chorus of opener ‘But You’re Probably Wrong’. It’s just the kind of poppy sugar hit the room needs, and suddenly no one feels so self-conscious about nodding along. In this alone, the London three-piece exceeds expectations, managing – at such a young age and so early in their musical careers – to actually make a room full of dour-faced twenty-somethings want to dance.
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Maintaining this infectious energy throughout their set, Happy Accidents make it clear just how easy it is to charm a crowd by so obviously enjoying what it is you do; these kids are having fun, and they don’t care who knows it. Guitarist/vocalist Rich Mandell belts out each song with heartfelt aplomb, and the whole band never stop moving. Through this, and a particularly memorable cover of Grimes’ ‘California’, they return from the stage into a far more relaxed and happy crowd.
Woahnows next, and the Plymouth trio don’t seem too worried by the challenge of maintaining the buzz left in Happy Accidents’ wake. For the first few minutes they largely joke among themselves about which songs they want to play. It’s hard not to like their mischievous grins and casual attitude, and when they do eventually agree on a song and start to play, the audience bob right along with them.
Their raucously catchy surf-punk once again injects a little energy into the room. Their comically apparent lack of preparedness quickly becomes a cornerstone of their performance, and at points they have to hum riffs to one another to know what to play. The set itself features a number of new songs, which go down just as well as the old, and Woahnows uphold the high standards of the act they followed.
One would normally expect that by this point the size of the crowd would have grown, yet the show remains criminally underattended. Muncie Girls take to the stage and dive straight into their melodic, sometimes gothic brand of punk rock. The band play well, but in contrast to the unbridled energy of Woahnows and Happy Accidents, the performance feels a little lacking. Vocalist/bassist Lande Hekt in particular seems almost shy, despite the obvious enjoyment of the small crowd.
Much of the strength of Muncie Girls, however, is in their songwriting, and Hekt’s artful lyricism and confident voice carry the set to its close with soaring choruses and singalong woah-ohs deserving of a far larger crowd than they’ve received tonight.
On a whole all three bands perform excellently, deserving extra points for accomplishing the difficult task of enlivening such a sparse audience. Muncie Girls, Woahnows and Happy Accidents are definitely ones to watch. Chances are in a few years there’ll be people kicking themselves for not coming tonight.