This Parrots article was written by Christopher Hughes, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
After playing just about every city and festival through their native Spain, a lengthy European tour, and a ferocious performance at Austin’s SXSW Festival, there’s a massive buzz around this gig as The Parrots bring their own marque of garage-psych to Liverpool. The Shipping Forecast, the intimate limits of downstairs venue The Hold, to be precise, is a sanctuary to all things raucous and loud – an epicentre of the boldest and brash. Remind anyone of another certain Liverpool basement?
Local garage rockers Shrinking Minds launch the night, their first two tracks setting the tempo for a show that gets increasingly grungier and unhinged with each song. It’s early in the night and the place is nowhere near full, but the cramped confines of The Hold is made for this kind of music. It’s bluesy, ballsy – it’s got guts.
It’s obvious that the trio are growing in confidence with each song, some nice fuzzy guitar solos over grinding bass and kick-snare-kick-snare beats. It’s more Fuzz than Thee Oh See’s but there’s features of both, moaning vocals that are never quite fully unleashed, finishing with a punkish rendition of new single ‘Fun’. Raw, and a little rough round the edges, but I think that’s exactly how these guys like it.
Despite their tender years, The Floormen seem to have been on the underground Merseyside scene for ages. This is the latest support slot for band who can already boast that they’ve played with The Paperhead, Strange Collective and at this years Liverpool Sound City Festival. Their set may be split into songs but it’s essentially one long kaleidoscopic jam through all kinds of speeds and genres, closer to prog than punk.
Buddy Keenan is a master of his pedal effects, switching sounds countlessly throughout. It gives them their dynamic, vigorous feel and it rubs off on the crowd too – there’s some far-out swaying straight from 60’s San Francisco. Bassist Luke Barlow looks and sounds like a young Roger Waters, and drummer Jamie Lindberg’s versatility is evident as he effortlessly switches from Kraut-motorik beats, to reggae dub and back again. They end with a slick jam of bass and drums, Keenan setting aside his guitar to manipulate wailing feedback with his pedals. I’ve seen these a few times but it’s by far their most intense and refined performance to date, definitely one to keep an eye and ear out for.
When the place is packed out and everyone is just about squiffy enough from Red Stripe, The Parrots take to the stage and soar into ‘Terror’, a minute and a half long riot of squawking vocals, lo-fi jangles of guitar, and a skipping beat that borders on psycho-billy. Galloping through much of their material from latest EP ‘Weed for The Parrots’, the mood is electric, alive with the buzz of garage surf-punk. And believe me, this IS punk.
The Madrid trio have got that infectious straight-from-college youth and energy, and that special knack of making you feel an essential part of the show. Best example? The whole crowd rousing into a rendition of Happy Birthday for drummer Larry while the band are all smiles – they’re clearly loving this. It’s crystal that their shouts of Gracias! is genuine humility from a group that adore their fans.
Their performance is burning with the rebellious kick of Black Lips, and their cover of The Almighty Defenders’ ‘All My Loving’ (the super group of which Cole Alexander is singer) shows they’ve been learning from the masters. The stripped-down-but-catchy-as-hell ‘No Me Gustas, Te Quiero’ is going to be in my head for days, I can just tell – it’s like The Growlers playing a Beach Boys cover.
Back to where it all began, they explode into a more frantic and volatile version of ‘Terror’ and only pick up speed as a quick instrument swap has a now guitar-less Diego swimming through the crowd, sweaty as hell. There’s a real sense that we’re witnessing something special from a band that won’t be touring tiny venues like this much longer. ¡Larga vida a Los Loros!