The Cosmics – Their name isn’t the only thing about them that’s out of this world.
On the 20th of September, I had the immense pleasure of seeing The Cosmics perform at The Social in central London for the first of what is becoming a small run of free gigs.
First, a note on the venue. The Social is certainly one of London’s premier tiny venues (maximum capacity is just 150), having played host to world class acts such as Adele, Jack White, Fat Boy Slim, and Wolf Alice throughout it’s now 20-year history. The impact of this trendy club on London’s music scene is hard to overestimate, to the extent that when rising rents risked its closure earlier this year, over £140,000 was raised in donations to keep the venue open. Whether visiting for a gig, or just a drink in the cosy upstairs bar, I’d strongly recommend it.
As for the music of the night, it started strongly with the first support band, local indie rock shoegazing four-piece: Nothingheads. Their filthy riffage, indistinct vocals, and thunderous rhythm section tore through the slowly gathering crowd. From the quality of their set, stretching beyond the three songs available on the band’s SoundCloud, it’s clear that Nothingheads will be a group to watch across London’s underground scene in the coming months.
Next came another local group, Human Pet.
Their frenetic, fuzzy punk songs brought a revitalized energy to the room, which seemed especially relevant in light of the protests across London earlier in the day. Of particular note in Human Pet’s sound is that they often let a driving bass line propel the song onwards, where other groups may typically prefer to add a guitar riff or wall of feedback to thicken up a verse. This direction made the chaotic, duelling guitars and solos present in the chorus’ of many of their songs feel fresher and less derivative than many new punk groups often appear.
Finally, around 10PM, the Cosmics took to the stage. To describe their set as electric would be a disservice, the energy of the crowd was the kind that many more successful groups fail to muster in venues with capacities in the thousands. Never before have I seen table dancing or a proper circle pit in a space no wider than a small corridor, and I somewhat doubt I’ll witness such a vibrant crowd again for a long while. This energy was equally present in the band, from the near-machinegun guitar riff of opening track, ‘Inishfree’ through mid-set highlight and early single ‘Johnny’ qne the impromptu encore of B-Side ‘Waste of Time’, all the way to their thrashing cover of ‘I H8 Pussies’ by The Spits. All with guitarist, Connor, free of any movement constraints imposed by a microphone or drum kit, thrashing and headbanging on stage throughout.
If pushed to choose a peak of the set, and indeed the night, my vote would have to go to ‘Trust is Blind’, a single from the band’s recent self-titled EP. The crescendo slowly growing from its quiet, open-chord strumming start to the chaotic, distorted bends and crashing drums in the chorus as singer, Erin, cries ‘You really f*cked up my mind!’ is the sort of build-up and break-down that would get Alexandra Palace opening up huge circle pits – so, to say the feeling of that sound tearing through such a tiny venue was immense is an extreme understatement.
Overall, an exciting night of great music that you won’t hear on the radio, in an intense, intimate venue, all for free. The premise alone would make complaint impossible, and the actual outcome of the entire night was so far above my already high expectations, with The Cosmics being one of my favourite still nascent bands, and The Social hyped up to near mythical status by its story of near collapse, its thriving community spirit, and the string of fantastic bands to have previously graced its stage.
Once again, should you be passing nearby in search of a drink, or looking for some music to revitalise your library/playlist/gig list, both The Social and all of the bands that played come highly recommended by yours truly, a perhaps only slightly questionable source of musical advice.
Listen to The Cosmics, Human Pet, and Nothingheads here:
Catch The Cosmics live in London for a free Halloween show at The Shackwell Arms on 26/10!