Review: Cheatahs w/Novella & American Clay @ Sneaky Pete’s, 19/11/15

Words: Adam Muir

A Night at the Shoegaze, where the noise curtain never really rises or falls.

So, full disclosure, I’m not all that into this modern dream-pop/shoegaze/the momentum-filled reverb-y indie that My Bloody Valentine gave us, and there was a lot of it present at Sneaky Pete’s tonight. There was a lot of noise (he says, ageing 40 years), the vocals were murky, and the guitarists’ wrist movements were all synchronized.

However, there was also a lot of energy, and variety: with the 3 acts each occupying a different niche on the noise rock – dream pop spectrum, which made for a great experience.

First up, American Clay, four chaps hailing from the “Buckfast Triangle” East of Glasgow, falling firmly on the noise rock side. The most distorted, rawest sound of the night, they took us on a series of peaks & troughs, the peaks often being a bit too loud to really discern what was happening in the song. The quieter moments however provided some of the more melodic moments of the night.

Next was the velvety psychedelica of Novella. Novella arguably had the most interesting sound, and the audience was won over 30 seconds into opener Land Gone. Watery guitars propped up with sitar textures & ethereal harmonies, despite a few technical issues, Novella kept us captivated all the way through.

By the time Cheatahs took to the stage, the audience was warmed up, and the energy didn’t drop from opener Sunne to closer Su-Pra. Any criticisms of Cheatahs’ show are likely also reasons to enjoy their music: while the buried vocals, reverb guitars and identical tempos made a lot of the songs indistinguishable (I couldn’t confidently give you the setlist), they make for an immersive, relentless sound which kept the audience jumping.

While the gig hasn’t changed my mind about modern shoegaze bands, it left me thinking about the way different influences poured into one genre can change a sound, without affecting the overall feel. The word to describe the night is “immersive”, and Novella were the highlight personally. I just wish the sound guy could put the vocals up.

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