For all we bemoan a lack of album sales and extortionate ticket prices, there is a build it and they will come mentality in rock and roll. If you can put together a touring bill packed with greats, then the people will be there. Which is exactly what Creeper have done. Only two days after the release of their debut album they stalk in that goth way they do into Glasgow and bring with them one hell of a party.
Putting your finger on what Puppy sound like is one hell of a task. On the one hand, it’s stoner pop. Taking elements of Foo Fighters and Weezer and running it through a sheen of Alice in Chains. These tracks will hook into your ears and have you bobbing your head along in appreciation. Which is when they’ll drop a corker of a riff, and suddenly you’re not bobbing but full on banging. For Puppy take as much from Maiden, Metallica and Pantera as they do those above and that’s before we even get to Deftones and the countless others band that come to mind when watching their set. The important part is that eventually you stop listing those influences and settle on them being undeniably Puppy and on this showing, that is a good thing.
Energy are the wildcard on this tour. Not musically, – of all the bands, they are the one closest to Creeper – but these Boston goth punks are the least well-known act on the card. Creeper, Milk Teeth and Puppy are three hyped band playing on home turf. Energy are on their first UK tour. It’s an opportunity they seem determined to grasp demanding a circle pit as they hit the stage before launching into their own brand of spooky punk. It quickly becomes apparent that they’ve been a significant influence on tonight’s headliners and tracks like ‘Another Yesterday’ and ‘Dead in Dreamland’ sound at home in this venue. It’s a shame then that lead singer Jason Tankerley never appears comfortable. Some minor technical issues force him to talk to the crowd longer than intended and he shrinks in the spotlight. It’s not enough to ruin the set, however, and next time Energy come through town there will a few more fans waiting to greet them.
The last time Milk Teeth were in Glasgow they were on this exact stage supporting Against Me! and gave one hell of a showing. That was only in December – and this is apparently only their second show of 2017 – but they have somehow got even better. Dropping straight into ‘Brickwork’ they tear through an eight-song set that could compete with anyone. From the alt-rock rumble of ‘Burger Drop’ to the slow melancholia of ‘Swear Jar’, this is a band that drops grungey bangers in the sleep and they look like rock stars as they do it. Feast your eyes anywhere on the stage, and you’ll get a show. From Oli Holbrook gurning away behind his drum kit to Billy Hutton dropping Smashmouth lyrics after ‘Swear Jar’. If for some daft fucking reason you have been sleeping on this band then it’s time to wake-up.
Creeper dropped their debut album on Friday, and two days later they are playing a venue that holds around 700 people. Over a year ago they played in Edinburgh to the Mash House which holds about a third of that number. The Creeper train is a rolling and judging by this show, it’s going to require one hell of a crash to stop it.
Flanked by four purple crosses, they stride onto the stage and dive straight into ‘Black Rain’ while every single word is screamed back at them. In fact, that’s a common theme for the evening. This early in their career these fans are already devotees, and it shows. Whether it’s the oldies such as ‘Gloom’ or newborns like ‘Down Below’ they are all greeted with a feverish delight.
And yet, much like on the album, it’s when things get quiet that the real highlights happen. When most of the band troop off and keyboardist Hannah Hermoine is left to take centre stage. Backed by an acoustic guitar, she sings ‘Crickets’ and leaves the incredible album version sitting in the dust. It’s a beautiful moment and one that rightfully leaves the venue chanting her name.
In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Creeper are at their best when they’re taking it slow. ‘I Choose To Live’ closes out the main set and it’s the Queen song that Queen never recorded. A life-affirming moment of rock and roll glory. We could also wax lyrical about ‘Misery’ here but we’ve probably all done enough of that already.
To restrict them to that would deprive you of all that theatrical punk rock goodness, though, so let’s not get shoot ourselves in the foot, because being honest, there isn’t a dud song in this set. Will Gould is the puppeteer, and we are his puppets as he dives through ‘Suzanne’, ‘Valentine’ and ‘VCR’. It’s rock and roll bombast at its very best, and it’s almost unfair how many good songs they have already. Pick this thing up, times it all by ten and drop it into arenas, and it will feel right at home.
Which is frankly where it is heading. That Creeper train we mentioned is dodging all obstacles and the driver is turning towards the star. If it makes the journey unscathed, then it will be well deserved. Our review of their album stated that Creeper get it and this live showing just strengthened that belief. One day we will all look back in amazement that they ever played venues this small.