This feels like an important moment for TRAAMS. Ostensibly an album launch party, tonight heralds the arrival of ‘Modern Dancing’ – album number two, comprised of eleven near-flawless tracks of rapturous post-punk. But if it’s a celebration, it’s not immediately obvious.
Anybody expecting genial between-song repartee tonight will be disappointed. Similarly, anyone harbouring the notion that a band owes their audience a ‘performance’ will be left wanting. With heads down in concentration for most of the set, TRAAMS’ refusal to engage with anything other than the job at hand is a welcome antidote to style-over-substance rock-star posturing.
If the overarching mood of 2013’s ‘Grin’ was characterised by low-level angst and a nagging existential malaise then ‘Modern Dancing’, as the name might suggest, is a notably happier outing, tracing vocalist Stuart Hopkins’ journey from quotidian, 20-something ennui to a more optimistic and benevolent place.
If this sounds like cause for concern, rest assured, it’s not an artistic volte-face that will leave fans out in the cold. There’s still enough general disquiet to go around. “You’re not my friends” goes the refrain from ‘Succulent Thunder Anthem’, whilst ‘Silver Lining’ asks the titular question: “How long ‘til the silver lining? I keep crying out, but it don’t look likely.” Incidentally, both songs are high points of tonight’s set.
There’s a smattering of tracks from the debut record, but tonight is really about the new album and it’s clear from the energy on stage that the band have lost no love for their new material during recording (sessions that saw the band temporarily relocate to Leeds to record with Hookworms polymath MJ).
TRAAMS’s best trick remains their ability to cast spells over their audience with hypnotic, motorik rhythms, throbbing pulses more redolent of electronic music than anything else. It’s a tough trick to pull off for a guitar band, and it only works because in Leigh Padley and Adam Stock TRAAMS have a rhythm-section so in-sync it’s borderline paranormal.
The energy in the crowd has been simmering steadily and by the time we get to the leviathan coda of ‘Klaus’ it’s spilling over everywhere; down by the barriers bodies collide, a communion of spilt drinks and wayward limbs.
It‘s neither hyperbole nor local-lads-come-good favouritism when we say that in 2015 TRAAMS are easily one of the most exciting bands around. With their sophomore album establishing them as such, and a comfortable transition to bigger venues under the belt, it would seem their new found optimism is pretty well placed.
TRAAMS, Patterns, Thursday 19th November 2015
Words by Liam McCreesh