Live Review – Slothrust @ The Sunflower Lounge
The Sunflower Lounge
Review by SdM
Never has a band caused such debate and consternation at Indie Midlands HQ before. Just how do you say “Slothrust”? Now, I know what you’re thinking – we should get out more, but as usual it’s the little things in life we all spend far too much time mulling over. Anyway, my initial thought upon reading was to say it as “Sloth-rust”; I then had a brainwave/aneurysm (much the same) and re-read it as a portmanteau of “Slow-thrust”. There you go, “sorted!”, thought I; and then proceeded to laud this over Indie Midlands’ very own Morph who had vehemently stuck to pronouncing the name as “Sloth-rust”.
The atmosphere was suitably electric with enthusiastic fans pressed forward against the stage. The lights were dimmed and the doleful wrist-slashing minor chords of Billy Joel’s classic ‘The Stranger’ played through the speakers. Perhaps it was a bit of foreshadowing that ‘The Stranger’ then shakes off it’s theme of piano bar-fly despair and breaks into an odd rock/pop/funk mix-up. Musically Slothrust are like trying to nail jelly to a wall – just when you think you have an angle on their sound they do something unexpected. ‘Peach’ opens with a slewed country-esque guitar and finishes with an air-punching sing-along chorus sounding like The Smashing Pumpkins meets The Pixies. ‘7:30 A.M’ even dares a little dance-around-the-maypole hoedown verse before the guitar distortion blasts away any notion that we should be too jolly tonight. Killer blues and rock riffs are added to the dark alt-rock background that even adds shades of jazz and metal. Leah’s engaging yet stentorious don’t-mess-with-me vocal underpins every song. “I do what I want. I say what I want. I wear what I want” she sings with an uncompromising tone on ‘Double Down’. I wouldn’t argue.
The trio sound tight and focussed in the same way fellow Stateside rockers Screaming Females do. The occasional backing samples triggered by drummer Will add a flourish and sheen but even without Slothrust rock out like a good band should. The party faithful at the front head-banged with a furious energy at the faster rockier songs. Shout-outs for old favourite ‘Crockpot’ from excitable but impatient fans was met with “we’ll get to it guys, c’mon!”
Bassist Kyle smiled throughout the show and visibly laughed at the whooping and cheering he received following one particular energetic solo. Drummer Will’s clever use of rhythm changes and eclectic beats gives the band a dynamic edge whilst Leah’s guitar melodies and solos embellish each song without any notion of being forced or contrived. It’s all done with a straight forward no-bullshit tell-it-how-it-is honesty. Leah talks to the crowd in the same manner she plays her guitar: “The next song is For Marshall. It’s from our first record. It’s not my favourite record but it’s our first. So, you know.”
The thrash of ‘Planetarium’ whips the crowd into a frenzy before the ‘final’ song of the night – the much called-for sing-along lament, ‘Horseshoe Crab’. It’s proves to be galvanising moment focusing attention on the stage and bonding us all in a football terrace like unity. “Depending on the room this is the moment we leave stage and come back” says Leah assessing the ridiculous notion of walking off stage and through the crowd, only to walk back again. “We’re definitely not going to leave the stage right now. So welcome to another song!” Audience pleaser ‘Crockpot’ turns out to be the real last song. With it’s catch-you-off-guard rhythm changes, chant like chorus and punch-in-the-ribs lyrics “Do you like cats? Of course you do you sassy mutherfucker!” it is a fitting high note to finish and one that sums up Slothrust and the scope of tonight’s gig.
As the final guitar chord thundered and howled through the speakers; as the cymbals crashed to rest; as the final drum-beat thuddered and the bass wobbled our pulverised bodies, Leah took to the mic once more, “Thank you Birmingham! We are Slothrust!”. And there is was, a double whammy – not only had I not been aware this fantastic band until tonight – four albums in! – it definitely was ‘Sloth-rust’ after all.
The following day, the buzz of excitement from an excellent gig still reverberating fresh in my mind, I asked my Amazon Alexa speaker to play the latest album, ‘The Pact ‘. “Playing The Pact “ said an obliging voice, “by ‘Slow-thrust’”. I give in!