Named after the heaven or utopian state that Charles Manson promised his “family” – ‘Columbia’ a debut album is a dark and broodingly twisted masterpiece. Tom Haywood stands as a formidable figure in thick blackface paint – he stares directly at you, the whites of his eyes more prominent are resting in the dark recesses. It’s an intense experience at the front of a Blinders gig, and we are here at my favorite venue in the UK – The Leeds Brudenell Social Club. Beer is cheap, there is a great view of the stage which is placed in a corner of the room and the surrounding raised areas are as packed as the moshpit in the front.
First, though, some sweet sugar before we get to the sourness – Calva Louise is the main support for some of these Blinder’s dates and a fine band they are too. Lead singer/guitarist Jess Allanic and bass player Alizon Taho are fair bouncing all over the small stage. Jess is wearing a short dark pleated gym skirt that if it were white would be something Virginia Wade used to play tennis in, but as she is kicking the air every 5 minutes you realize it’s an essential part of the image. Outrageous is as catchy a chorus as you will find that is just “la..la..la..la..la..lah” repeated over and over again. It is all high energy alt-pop, with Jess’s vocals switching from twee girly to full-on screamo. It is a nice shock to the senses though as these pop tunes switch midway to almost punk creations, the sugar kicking in like three 5-year-old kids on a Haribo high. The steam rising from drummer Ben Parker as Getting Closer blasts off and Allanic’s head is shaking, her hair is all over the place. Infectious, endearing, and sparkling energy means lots of smiles and reasons to check out Calva Louise while they are still playing these small venues. When their album Rhinoceros is released in February next year there will be many more opportunities to go and witness this punky pop threesome in action.