Big Deal have been hyped by the likes of BBC 6 Music and have been performing to great acclaim. Louder Than War’s Nyika Suttie went to see what all the fuss was about.
It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been really excited about a band, so when I heard Big Deal on BBC 6 Music it was a pleasant surprise. I was further surprised to find out they were playing a free gig in my city, so I started excitedly telling my friends about this really good new group we should go to see. But then I started to get worried; what if, after dragging people to this gig, they didn’t live up to the hype?
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried.
Big Deal are fronted by Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe (who are American and English respectively) and who make a strikingly contrasting pair: Kacey is tall and dark whereas Alice is small and blonde. The story goes that Kacey, who is quite a bit older, taught Alice to play indie songs on the guitar. They are joined by drummer Melissa Rigby and bassist Huw Webb when playing live.
From the moment the band picked up their guitars (Kacey’s was delightfully polka dotted) and broke into radio favourite Swapping Spit (see below), I knew I really had been onto something quite special. With their dour expressions and being of differing genders, one might assume that Big Deal were just another XX. But instead they deliver shoegaze with a serious indie rock edge, the lead singers mostly performing the lyrics in unison, which is almost a refreshing change from the usual harmonisation or call and reply of male and female fronted bands.
Big Deal have a welcome grunge feel, a spell which was somewhat broken when the band spoke between songs. “I feel like we’re in a Bath, being covered with waves of awesomeness; I bet you hear that a lot,” said Kacey between two songs, which caused many a Bath dweller to look mildly embarrassed. Yet despite the slightly cringeworthy audience interaction the band performed a tight set of songs from their debut album June Gloom, getting much of the crowd dancing. I even spotted some people singing along. By the end of the set much of the crowd was smiling, and personally I was sad to see them leave the stage.
A large number of other reviews have questioned whether Underwood and Costelloe are in a relationship, but I feel it would be unkind to speculate. What felt nice about the band was that they felt real and tangible, even selling their own merch at the end. “We’re a big fan of the saying hello thing,” they said, before launching into their last song.
Supporting Big Deal were Traams, hailing all the way from West Sussex. They noisy, mildly chaotic rock music, the lead singer throwing himself about the stage. What I saw of them was enjoyable, although the crowd was quite small.
Being fairly new to Bath this was my first visit to Moles, which is the City’s main indie and alternative music venue. The upstairs is quite light and airy with plenty of sofas to sit on, whereas downstairs is just as dark and pokey as any small gig venue should be, the walls plastered with posters advertising upcoming events. On one of the walls the venue projected subtitled episodes of Ren and Stimpy, which we enjoyed watching between the bands from a strategically placed holey sofa. My only complaint about the venue would be the slight smell of vomit in the back room, but if you want a small, grungey venue you have to put up with these things.
Big Deal are still on tour and I can’t stress how much you should see them. I will be very surprised if they don’t hit the big time soon, indeed it probably won’t be long until Radio 1 pick them up. They are an exciting band, and they really do live up to the hype.