As the last days of 2019 approach, one can’t help but take stock of the past year and the records that stood out. The album with which I’ve spent more time than any other the past 10 months has clearly been Silver Tongues, the debut album by London’s Crows (pictured above). Equally tumultuous and atmospheric, the shapeshifting record delivers a visceral punch while at the same time conjuring a lysergic thrill reminiscent of Spacemen 3.
The band has spent much of October on tour with the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets (pictured below), and this past Tuesday, they were at home playing to a near-capacity crowd at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. Coming on after Bitch Diesel but before the headlining Aussies, Crows didn’t waste any of their limited time slot. After the band warmed its collective motor with the slow-build cacophony of the record’s title track, singer James Cox shed his sweatshirt before leaping into the crowd as his bandmates launched into “Demeanor,” also from Silver Tongues. Singing among a throng of colliding bodies, he made sure that anyone still thinking this would be an ordinary opening set was quickly made aware otherwise.
It wasn’t the last time Cox would end up in the audience, but the set’s high point, “Wednesday’s Child,” was delivered from the stage. Also the record’s penultimate track, live the song was even more riveting, with Cox commanding, “Blame me for all of your mistakes,” with certain fierceness. That ferocity was tempered on “Empyrean,” where Cox and company imbued their maelstrom with a degree of moodiness. Similarly, they ended their set with the reverberating notes of “Chain of Being,” choosing to fade away instead of going out with a bang.
Regardless, their set ended as quickly as it began to make way for the headliners who evidently most of the crowd was there to see. With the median age of the audience skewing quite young, PPC must seem novel to their fans, who’ve likely not spent much time with any Deep Purple albums or others of that ilk. As I have, it took a few songs before I eventually warmed to the Perth-based band’s mix of well-tread psych-rock tropes and its accompanying trippy light show. Playing mostly cuts from their third and latest album, And Now for the Whatchamacallit, the Porn Crumpets managed to insert just enough hints of pop and melody to keep their set from chooglin’ monotonously. That said, another 20 minutes of Crows would have been much preferred by this minority.