2:54 delivers a powerful performance at Rough Trade East
On Thursday 31st May, 2:54 played a short showcase to promote their recently released self-titled debut album at London’s coolest record store Rough Trade East.
Suitably energised by Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, the crowd, armed with cans of Asahi, gathered around the CD racks as 2:54 – Hannah and Colette Thurlow, plus backing band – kicked off. Immediately noticeable was the difference between the band’s live sound and recorded sound.
Live, they created a full, dirty dirge, which was wonderfully raw and brought to mind the early work of PJ Harvey. It was instantly far more enjoyable than their clean, tight and produced recorded work. It is surprising they chose to record in such a manner, as they sacrificed the boldest and best characteristic of their live set.
Having certainly stirred up the interest of the large and attentive audience, who nodded heads in unison throughout, the band blasted out their gloomy indie rock. The gig was solid and punchy with a rhythm section that shook the walls and bouts of aggressive fretboard bashing. However, it failed to remain particularly engaging for very long. Though the vocal style (two parts Bjork, one part Ladyhawke) was nice and the bubbling guitar lines felt as though they were always on the verge of creating some real tension, it never really came to much.
Disappointingly, there were no real surprises. The moody, dark bass washed over the dance drums and the lead guitar lines, with a little bit of delay, would quite comfortably slot into the template of any number of British indie bands currently revisiting whatever it was Depeche Mode started twenty years ago. If this aesthetic was the basis for something a bit different, a starting point to branch out to more unusual territory, it would have felt far more as if they were putting their own stamp on their music. Scarlet, for example, is an enjoyable enough track; they delivered it with spirit, but felt as though it was promising an interesting twist and was working up to a climax that never really arrived. Compounding this was a lack of variation in tempo, style and dynamics within the songs.
The standout moments came from the band’s lead guitarist who, by far, created the most interesting and colourful bursts. It was frustrating how underused she was and how irregularly she came to the fore. Clearly she is an accomplished player with an ear for a hook; if she had lashed out with a little more craziness it could have really spiced up the proceedings. She even made her guitar sound a bit like a laser at one point. It was great.
2:54 is a band on the edge of discovering their own unique spin on indie rock. They certainly have the right ingredients. The forcefulness of their live sound is an impressive and powerful tool; it won’t be too long before they deliver something quite special.
Check the band out here.
Listen to Scarlet on SoundCloud here