Snapped Ankles / Beak
Birmingham Hare And Hounds
19th May 2019
Beak> bring their old touring pals ‘Snapped Ankles’ out for a small run of celebratory UK dates.
It does not seem to long back that Beak> unleashed their third album and already they’ve hit us up with a brand new single to play on a short UK run of dates. They decided to make the tour that little bit more special they would ask if their old touring partners Snapped Ankles would join them, despite the fact that Snapped Ankles are now a major draw due to the success of their second and most recent album Stunning Luxury. Thankfully, it’s a reciprocated form of band love and Snapped Ankles agreed to the tour without hesitation, bringing an rare excitement in the air that comes with the knowledge that with such a great line up you’re stone cold guaranteed to have a top night.
They arrive on the stage before an absolutely heaving Hare & Hounds bedecked in workers overalls and their trademark forest woodland headwear. It’s as though the character Dead Papa Toothwort from Max Porters book ‘Lanny’ has split into four people and decided to play some early B52’sesque style surf style pop through an electro filter. It starts slowly with Pestisound [Moving Out] before ripping straight into Tailpipe, which showcases just how amazing a rhythm section the band have. The locked bass and rapid drumming (by who I will call for this review Toothworts #2 and #3 respectively) is immense, building itself up magnificently as the synths and their custom made wooden stick turned theremin type ‘thing’ get a battering from Toothwort #5.
It’s not long before the frontman Toothwort #1 starts preaching about how the space taken by small venues is a valuable financial asset for development, and hits the dance floor armed with a estate agents tape measure whist singing “We’re measuring the room” whilst doing exactly that, squeezing through the bemused throng. Once the measurements are made he’s back onstage and the set comes to a euphoric close with Johnny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin.
At any normal gig you would fear that the headliner would have trouble following such an frenetic, funny and down right impressive set, but as the sound of Beak> is so different from Snapped Ankles, it is not a problem at all. They amble on and loosely kick into Brazilian, the album opener from >>>, a slow building dirge which commands and receives attention from the off.
The set is heavy on tracks from >>>, but there are a few rarities thrown in the mix such as The Meader getting the nod from a quiet and attentive audience. There’s a pause midway through the set as the band to regale us with a story about how they spent £800 on Ebay to buy their lighting system, which consists of two nineteen-eighties style mobile disco style units. “We’re like Muse” they sarcastically announce before ripping into Wulfstan II, arguably the heaviest song in the bands cannon and unarguably the heaviest track of the evening.
As the main bulk of the set comes to a close, we’re told that they will not be doing an encore, as “encores are a bit shit”, before caustically throwing in that “the Nokia Sponsored Tame Impala refuse to do encores also, so maybe we should start doing them after all” before ending the set triumphantly with the new single Life Goes On.
Beak>’s onstage chat is every bit as funny and arresting as their set, and along with their inspired choice of touring pals it helped make for an fantastic evening that felt far more special than a gig in Birmingham on a Sunday evening should.
You can find out more about Snapped Ankles at their official Facebook page.
Words by Christopher Lloyd, Photograph by Emma Barton.
More writing by Christopher can be found at his author’s archive.