Sunday 21 April 2024

Ist Ist / Aerial Salad / Dog Sport - Liverpool Arts Club - 19th April 2024

Ist Ist headed to Liverpool for the penultimate show of their UK and European tour, filling out the loft of the Arts Club supported by Salford upstarts Aerial Salad and local support Dog Sport. Performing tracks from their forthcoming fourth album as well as their three albums to date they reinforced the growing belief that anything that stops their rise is going to come from outside the band's control.

Dog Sport are on so ridiculously early that they start to an almost empty room, fifteen minutes after doors, but they leave a positive impression on those that get in from the beginning or arrive during their half hour set. With just two singles - Common Ground and Cylinder - to go on, they're new to most of the crowd but the response to their atmospheric take on post punk shows that they connect with songs that build and grow as they progress, a mile away from the bands that have broken out of the city in recent times. 

Aerial Salad hit hard and right from the outset. In a world where polite posh boys are taking over leading bands, Aerial Salad offer a refreshing alternative, fusing musical styles into something that batters you like a hammer and is relentless in its ferocity. Heavily featuring tracks from their second album ROI - including key singles Chances and Tied To Pieces Of Paper - they clearly have something to impart and they're going to make you listen to it whether you want to or not. Front man Jamie is a real throwback in the sense that every single bit of anger and sense of disaffection is channeled into each and every song whilst the rhythm section of Wimbo on drums and Jake on bass ensure that the songs have sharp perforated edges that cut you on touch. We went straight to the merch at the end and bought both albums on the strength of their set despite never having heard them before if you want a recommendation that puts its money where its mouth is.

Ist Ist are a bit perturbed by the early curfew that threatens to cut their set for a club night that no one turns up to for the first hour, so there's even less chat than normal tonight as they power through twenty songs in eighty minutes hardly pausing from breath. On the twentieth of twenty one mostly sold out shows across Europe and UK, they're supremely confident and assured, ready for even bigger stages, yet still infusing each song with new life and energy, particularly when Matt gets hold of the guitar and lets loose. Their sonic ambition and power live has always been stronger than on record, as it is with most bands, but as they enter 2024 with their best record to date in their pocket and crowds on the rise, you sense they're about to light bigger fires and kick down doors that have been locked in front of them.

Forthcoming single The Kiss is dispatched early in the set after a thrilling start of last album Protagonists' lead single Stamp You Out and The Art Of Lying's Fat Cats Drown In Milk. It's a big bold statement of intent, but it's layered with a huge anthemic chorus that's more immediate than anything they've done before but without compromising their art an iota. The other unreleased new songs, Repercussions and I Can't Wait For You, are played together mid-set, Adam joking that people can go to the bar before they're played and Andy that they'll play "good old shit" after them, and lay down a formidable marker for what they've got to come in 2024. They're not reinventing the wheel, but they're pushing the boundaries of what we know about them hard and fast into new more ambitious areas of sound.

They drag the rest of the set kicking and screaming with them. Songs from Architecture remain in the set in number - Black, Discipline, Night's Arm, You're Mine and Slowly We Escape - but they're almost unrecognisable in form from four years ago, emboldened by the size of the crowds they're being played to by a band that's built an unstoppable momentum built on supreme and justified confidence in what they're doing. The lazy comparisons thrown at them in their early days have now dwindled to barely significant reference points. 

The songs from The Art Of Lying - an archetypal lockdown album in the sense that the songs have only really come to life after release by being played in a room - are more widescreen, particularly Heads On Spikes and The Waves, the latter cramming a lesser band's whole creative idea space into four minutes. 

Last year's Top 50 album Protagonists is best represented, understandably, with its singles Nothing More Nothing Less, Mary In The Black And White Room and a soaring arena-ready Emily standing out and demonstrating the big bold bastard of a band that Ist Ist have become as their star has risen. The Liverpool crowd, sometimes a difficult one for bands from up the East Lancs Road, love them and that love is reciprocated by the band who recognise music transcends more tribal football rivalries. Where once they were a Manchester band, Ist Ist are now a national and international player, on the brink with momentum behind them and needing to be heard by a wider audience should the industry allow.

IST IST are on Facebook and Twitter. Their albums can be ordered via their website. Digital versions of their previous limited edition releases and a number of live field recordings are available to download from their Bandcamp

They play Manchester New Century (October 19) and Whitby Tomorrows Ghosts Festival (November 1) with more dates to be announced shortly.

Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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