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The Twilight Sad
Those Darlins
Comet Club, Berlin
Sunday April 15 2012



Now here's a strange juxtaposition. The wide-screen angsty anthems of Glasgow's The Twilight Sad up against the sardonic country-punk of Those Darlins, fresh into Europe from their home base in Tennessee. How have such disparate bands from opposite sides of the planet ended up on the same stage in Berlin?

It appears that the two bands were originally supposed to play two separate gigs, in two different venues within the same building - a converted office block, just over the western side of the old East Berlin/West Berlin border. (Berlin, we must note in passing, is probably the only city in the world where disused office blocks are turned into night clubs. In London it's invariably the other way round).

Someone, it seems, decided things would be altogether more efficient if the two gigs were combined into one. Well, a triumph for ruthless German efficiency, then - but aesthetically it's a head-on collision.

Those Darlins are brash and caustic and exude who-cares nonchalance. If you cut them in half you'd probably find 'What the hell' written through them like a stick of rock. The two front-Darlins swing their guitars and give the audience their best I'm-not-impressed stares. It's as if Debbie Harry and Joan Jett had grown up playing that club in the Blues Brothers movie with chicken wire over the stage. These gals ain't gonna be fazed by no bunch o' Berliners, not even if half of them are here to see another band. Those Darlins

They whack out their swaggering, cowboy-booted songs with attitude a-go-go, the vocals an unrepentant bawl. The drummer, sitting behind his kit like the sensible cousin from the college town upstate, keeps it all nailed, while the bassist, tousled and bashful, picks his way along with new-boy care. Apparently he's a last-minute substitute, hauled in after the regular bass-Darlin quit just before the tour. Don't you just hate it when that happens?

But this is a band that doesn't let little bumps on the road slow 'em down. Tonight they're offhand and feisty and defiantly punk rock, even as the guitars twang and the vocals clamour like a windy night in the Smokies. 'Screws Get Loose' is, perhaps, the band's defining anthem, with its air of unrepentant defiance, but then Those Darlins are all unrepentant defiance, and we love 'em for it.

The Twilight Sad also have a touch of unrepentant defiance about them - perhaps the combination of bands tonight isn't so odd after all. There's possibly a connection there, if nowhere else. There certainly isn't any musical similarity.

For The Twilight Sad exist in a permanent cloud of swirling angst. Their songs are huge, billowing things, rolling out of the PA like ominous thunderclouds. Every song is a mighty wall of sound, every one is topped by a stentorian Glasweigian holler from a vocalist who barely acknowledges the audience. Instead he turns away, adding his vocal bellow to the surging flood of the band's sonic storm.

The guitarist, extravagantly moustachioed like a Victorian patriarch, is reserved, deadpan, throughout - The Twilight Sad are not a bunch of showboaters, that's for sure. But the guitar sound is never less than massive. Everything about The Twilight Sad is massive.

It must be said that any detail in the sound is swamped by by the sheer bigness of the din. There's not much in the way of light and shade here - just shade, shade, shade. Well, the band are called The Twilight Sad, after all. You can't expect them to be even slightly bright and happy after they've dropped that calling card on the mat.

But in the end the band's relentless focus on one thing - their vast musical thundercloud - and the singer's total absorbtion in his own private world of woe, allows my attention to wander, and eventually my feet to wander, too. I retreat from the stage, and watch the set wind down to a finish from the back of the room.

It's ironic: the band's all-consuming dedication to their art doesn't leave room for anyone else. Those Darlins clearly want to connect with the cowd. The Twilight Sad don't seem particularly bothered if there's a crowd at all. They'd probably be quite happy (for The Twilight Sad's value of 'happy') brewing up their big dark storms in an empty room.

The Twilight Sad


The Twilight Sad:

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Those Darlins:

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For more photos from this gig, find Those Darlins by name here.

Find a Those Darlins album review here.

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Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.
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