The Boxer Rebellion, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

Being in a band is not necessarily a bed of roses. There are advances to pay back, promotional duties to fulfil and long bus journeys to endure. There are also gigs to play in front of small numbers of uninterested punters. The Boxer Rebellion, a grungey London-based four-piece, have been appointed as the latest saviours of Alan McGee's troubled Poptones label - their as-yet-untitled debut album is due early next year. The crowd do not appear thrilled at the news.

As if to forestall a lack of applause, the band link their opening numbers with a sliver of feedback. They are clapped when they eventually do pause from their bassheavy quiet/loud melodics. They are also heckled. "Fuck your Boxer Rebellion," bellows a drunk man from the stairs. Tennessee-born vocalist Nathan Brown tightens his mic stand in response. Resistance is never quite joined and the band retreats rather meekly into the background.

Brown, with his nice cheekbones and funky scarf, may look the part, but he projects charisma like a muddy puddle. "Rock'n'roll," he mutters occasionally, perhaps to remind himself he's not doing late shift at a funeral parlour. You might expect more guts and polemic from a band who take their name from a violent campaign of anti-imperialist insurrection. You might also expect some musical radicalism, but while the Boxer Rebellion fuse a spiky and often rather sophisticated rhythm section to fuzzy guitars and wailing vocals, most of their songs are informed by a straightforward rock aesthetic. They sound like Muse without the theatrics, or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club without the malignance.

The context may well have something to do with it, and the driving, cacophonous Watermelon does lift things. But it's too little too late - and this from a band that should just be getting going.


James Smart

The GuardianTramp

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