[Written by Ani Williams ]
[Image Credits: Conner Dixon & Ani Williams]
Despite the looming exam-period dread, I jumped at the chance to review Calva Louise’s gig at The Attic on Monday the 2nd of December. The group of three hails from all corners of the world: vocalist and main guitarist Jess Allanic from Venezuela, drummer Ben Parker from New Zealand, and bassist Alizon Taho from France. The moment I listened to their newly released, 10-track debut album Rhinoceros, I knew I had to see them live. Glasgow was the second stop of their December mini-tour, and after discovering that they had fully sold out at their Manchester gig the night before, I was thrilled at the chance to see them live and wondered what was in store for me.
The band had chosen their supporting acts effectively. Glaswegian punk rock 4-piece The Stoned Immaculate successfully set the scene for the rest of the night with strikingly intoxicating songs such as Charlie Brown and Simmer from their various EPs. Thereafter Gaygirl, from South London, subsequently hit the stage. Having once been described as a band with an ‘indie noir’ sound, it was clear why Gaygirl were present at each leg of the Calva Louise tour. Unfortunately, for the first half of their slot the main microphone was acting a bit dodgy, but this didn’t affect the quality of their performance. As soon as the technical issue was sorted, they bounced back and were an impressive precursor for the final act.
From the minute Calva Louise walked on stage, it was evident that they were capable of creating a substantial atmosphere and that they would have no difficulty in holding the crowd’s full attention. Front-woman Jess looked fashionably grunge in her smudged black eyeliner, faux leather skirt and 90s-esque platform boots, with Ben and Alizon matching her look with effortlessly stylish clothes. They opened with Sleeper — which can be found on their fabulously titled EP Interlude for the Borderline Unsettled — a track that contemplates the modern crisis of the increasing use of technology in our lives. I knew from that opening moment that it would be a challenge to maintain a reviewer’s mindset as I just wanted to lose myself and become enveloped in their transcendent music for the rest of the night.
As I’d expected, their stage presence was effervescent. Jess’ aptitude in keeping the crowd’s attention was clear, as she simultaneously expressed her gratitude to the audience for making the tour possible. In the interlude between I’m Gonna Do Well and unreleased I Wish, she mentioned the band’s DIY nature, referring to how she has often discovered Alizon and Ben attempting to construct another instrument from scratch. At a later time in the gig, when one of the cables appeared to be faulty, she jokingly referred back to the DIY aspect of the band’s equipment to fill up the silence and fixed the possibly awkward situation with an admirable ease. In addition, although the three boys at the barrier who attempted to arouse the band’s brutal punk spirit might have been considered insolent and been ignored by many musicians, both Jess and Alizon appeared more than ready to submit to the crowd’s wishes and fully engaged by coming up close to the barrier and playing relentlessly right in the crowd’s faces.
The closing song was Belicoso, from Jess’ native Spanish into English ‘bellicose’ or ‘warlike,’ my personal favourite of their entire discography. Consistent with the meaning of the title itself, the live performance of the song certainly evokes an unimaginable sense of wanting to be aggressive and fight. Finally, complementing the vicious but upbeat duality of this final sonic rock song, the fact that the stage lights suddenly changed to a brutal blood-red colour, in contrast with the pop blue neon ‘CALVA LOUISE’ sign lit up on the wall. And then, still full of excitement from the beginning of the show, without having time to fully comprehend their finely calibrated performance, it was all over. Their music is positively comparable to that of the Nova Twins, Estrons, and Klaxons, so if you’re a fan of any of them I’d highly recommend checking Calva Louise out. You can stay up to date on their whereabouts by following @calvalouise on Instagram.