Crystal Antlers at the Workman’s Club Friday 28th February 2014

Californian rockers Crystal Antlers have been steadily growing in reputation over the past few years. With them back in The Workman’s Club, it seemed like the perfect time for GoldenPlec to reacquaint themselves with the Californian lads.

Before Crystal Antlers played, support was supplied by hotly tipped Cork band The Vincent(s). A new single Throne Song has recently been dropped by The Vincent(s) and it got an airing at this gig. If Throne Song is the tone of the future direction of their sound it fitted right in with the rest of the funeral-paced, menacing set. Valley Of The Sun was particularly alarming in its intent.

Originally beginning life as a sextet, these days Crystal Antlers are a core trio of Jonny Bell, Kevin Stuart and Andrew King. When they did take to the stage it had that air of anticipation that this was a band that know how to deliver. “We’re from California and this song is called California” exclaims Bell as they tore into their set as if it is to be their last.

Bell was a dynamo of mischievous energy and held attention throughout the gig. With his hair covering his face, he resembled a rock god version of Cousin It. Licorice Pizza and Pray are perfectly rowdy while latest single We All Gotta Die was an impeccable slice of melancholy. A couple of cover versions are thrown in with Bob Dylan’s It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue getting a supercharged kick up the arse. Shorn of some of the vocal effects that are used on last year’s excellent ‘Nothing Is Real’ album, Bell’s sandpapery rasp of a voice generates far more emotion when heard live. It’s very noticeable on Prisoner Song which is elevated beyond its album version.

Parting Song For the Torn Sky is a lesson to other bands on how to end a gig. It’s a firebrand of a song normally but on this occasion becomes a wild sprawling behemoth with Bell descending form the stage to mix with the crowd for added fun. There were a few quibbles from this gig. Namely the sound at times was far from perfect with the vocals lacking clarity. It was rectified eventually but should have been right from the start. And lastly, the set was just too short. When it was that enjoyable you just don’t want the fun to stop and most bands would be happy if this is the worst you could say about them.