LIVE: TRAAMS @ Think Tank?

On paper, TRAAMS sounded like a band I’d be totally on-board with right from the word go: experimental yet accessible punk-rockers and self-confessed lovers of bands like Can and Television, they ticked all the right boxes. But listening to their album from last year, Modern Dancing, something always felt a little lacking, a want of the electrifying energy that would make the songs–full of potential–really take off. I found out on Saturday that playing live, the band really injects that energy, and then some.

Support band Seize the Chair, it has to be said, really set the mood with an electrifying, infectiously silly performance that was easily up to the standard of the main act. Playing what sounded like a sort of bizarre collision of punk, psychedelia and surf rock, everyone in the band looked like they were having a lot of fun, the lead singer and guitarist gurning away and shaking his head about like a wet dog throughout. The crowd participated enthusiastically in the manic performance, including the guy who jumped up onstage and knocked over the mic-stand in a particularly wild moment. The band weren’t a bit perturbed.

An indefatigable motorik chug laid the backdrop for what I’d really wanted to hear the band do all night – just forget about verses and choruses and jam out like the modern-day krautrock band they are

After that thoroughly enjoyable opener, I was ready, for all my reservations, for TRAAMS. Immediately, the contrast between the hyperactivity of Seize the Chair and the kind of aloof coolness these guys were projecting was impossible to ignore. TRAAMS have a calculated approach that’s less immediately charming than the adolescent energy of STC – but for all that, the music proved to have just the same capacity to get people excited.

The set list was drawn mostly from Modern Dancing, including singles like ‘Costner’, which the band opened with. The song is a great example of the difference between hearing the band on record and hearing them live: the massively appealing instrumental  section a couple of minutes into the song which on the album feels like it’s just getting going when it fades back into the chorus again, had none of that sense of anticlimax live. I couldn’t tell you if they extended it or simply played it with a force that was previously lacking, but by the end of the first song I was convinced.

Other songs included the hugely catchy ‘Silver Lining’, which had the crowd singing along to the chorus and going wild for the ferocious wall of guitar noise towards the end; the quietly menacing ‘Neckbrace’ which exploded in an even bigger way at its own climax; and the enjoyably fuzzy garage rock of ‘Flowers’.

The show closed with ‘Klaus’, the closer from the band’s first album Grin. An indefatigable motorik chug laid the backdrop for what I’d really wanted to hear the band do all night – just forget about verses and choruses and jam out like the modern-day krautrock band they are when they’re at their best. When they were done they left the amps onstage in screeching, deafening feedback loops that somebody had to rush up and turn off after they were gone. I was not disappointed.

Jack Caulfield

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