The support act consists of two boys, one holds a guitar, the other half-dressed for a pyjama party. With wallowing vocals and staged insularity, they offer an adolescent homage to The Fall, momentarily disappearing off stage, and finally ending on a shouted acapella order to “turn away” while friends look on in glee. Wesley Eisold, Caralee McElroy and Dominick Fernow stand around looking unassuming, very calm but interested. Standing a few feet apart, watching their young support acts intently, each thinking their own thoughts, it is clear that Cold Cave are three individuals.
The Liars Club’s chalk sign is of course a lie, Cold Cave’s set is actually scheduled for just half an hour. They take to the stage in their imposing trademark formation, looking like power-dressed dark elves, a few tweaks with their sound man Chris and – boom - let the army of synths begin.
Onstage, Cold Cave likes a minimal approach. No VJ, No light displays, and Wesley’s attire is black on black in black. Along with a svelte black fringe and placid black eyes, he presents a rich and impressionable contrast to the uplifting and almost camp direction that their music has taken since the summer.
Interestingly their set starts with the final track from Love Comes Close, the icy and regressive I.C.D.K. The trio play Life Magazine and Laurels of Erotomania (both singles of Love Comes Close) as well as performing the macabre anthem I’ve Seen The Future and It’s No Place For Me from their previous record Cremations. The phenomenal Theme From Tomorrowland is the highlight of the set, a new piece from the Death Comes Close EP, although title-track Love Comes Close inevitably enjoys the warmest reception, including some purposeful clapping from two middle-aged men with a Guardian umbrella.
Notably the popular and infectious pinball track The Trees Grew Emotions and Died did not feature in their set.
Talking to Eisold backstage, reasons are given for not playing The Trees, “We’ve been playing it recently, but for some reason it just isn’t working live”. When asked why the set was little over half an hour, he explained, “I don’t like the idea of playing for more than half an hour, as that’s the longest a band can hold my attention for personally, and besides, the new album is little over half an hour too."
Keeping things succinct is a technique that Cold Cave are well accustomed to, having enjoyed success with tracks like Gates that are barely two minutes long.
I question Wes over Crystal Castles, a band that some journalists have compared Cold Cave too, presumably due to more than their alliteration. “I did see Crystal Castles play at a party once but I’m not really aware of them, I don’t know them or their music. It’s interesting that they were big over here though”.
Crystal Castles’ success lies in uber energy, sex, sampling and computer games. Also some thanks goes to serious pedalling from teen telly stuff like Skins.
Cold Cave are evidently more intellectual than many of their contemporaries, not copy cats, but very poetic and genuinely creative. One innovation of theirs is the daring simplicity of sometimes singing in direct melodic and rhythmic synchrony with the main keyboard melody, creating an unnerving ping-pong sing-along effect that evokes a sense of terrifying inescapability, a dark truth that is disguised as something much sweeter and more orderly.
Well-known Nottingham nightclub entrepreneur, George Akins, owner of Rock City, Stealth and this odd venue The Bodega, attended the gig as part of his 35th birthday celebrations. Did he enjoy watching Cold Cave? “They were good yeah, very interesting, perhaps too dark for me, but I’m sure they’ll do very well."
Leaving the UK next week, Cold Cave will support Sonic Youth imminently upon their return to the US. Wes confirmed that their band’s membership is fixed now on three, having fluctuated over the last year. This solidification, on top of their recent signing to Matador Records, suggests that Cold Cave have finally crystallised an act that they can now present, promote and project with confidence and coherency.
By the end of the night, every single Cold Cave poster had disappeared into the jackets of Nottingham’s pretty boys. A good omen if ever I saw one.
I’ve seen the future, and it’s cold, and it’s cavernous. They may have to be shelf neighbours with Crystal Castles and Cut Copy in HMV, but artistically they're leagues ahead.
Above: Wesley Eisold and Caralee McElroy chatted to their British fans and signed LPs before disappearing mysteriously into the Nottinghamshire rain.
Below: with Wesley