The thing with Madrid quartet Hinds is that the band will lull you into a false sense of security again and again, especially if you’re not massively familiar with the music going in. Like the Pixies (there are other reference points, but Frank Black’s band works perfectly here), a song will start with a gentle strum and some delicate crooning from, in this case, frontwoman Carlotta Cosials and guitarist/backing vocalist Ana Garcia Perrote. Without even knowing it, your mind will relax and your body will follow suit. “This is nice,” your dumb subconscious will tell you. And then Hinds will proceed to kick your very conscious ass.
Fool me once, shame on you, and all that jazz. Because Hinds pulls that trick time and time again. They find new ways to do it every time. They might delay the face-ripping a few extra seconds, or they might up the fuzz to leave you thinking, “Maybe this one is some chilled Dinosaur Jr.-esque lo-fi goodness.” Eventually though, the riff kicks in, Cosials snarls a little, and they blast. And every time, it’s glorious.
The Pixies are a genuinely solid comparison here, not least because of the shared trick of burying the sugary, melodic sweetness under a pile of barbed wire. It’s in there somewhere but you have to dig for it and you might get cut a little. The Vaccines also regularly get mentioned alongside Hinds, and that’s fair too, although comparisons to the Strokes and the Black Lips, which pop up all over the web, are inexplicable.
This year’s debut album, Leave Me Alone, preceded two EPs in 2014, which also happens to be the year that they changed their name from Deers because of that other band called Deers. Whatever, Hinds fits them well.
So songs from all of those records get aired in the band's live performance, including the deceptively chilled “Bamboo,” a killer cover of Thee Headcoats’ “Davey Crockett,” and a frantic “Castigadas en el Granero.” Those gathered at the Lost Lake Lounge seemed familiar with all of the material, and at one point (and to Cosials’ clear delight), they started pogo-ing like 1970s punks. And why the hell not?
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It seemed risky to us to place Hinds first on the bill – there was a serious danger that the load would be well and truly blown before second band the Frights took one step on stage. It didn’t quite work out like that, although it’s tough to see past the Spanish ladies when picking a highlight of the evening.
The Frights are a Californian popish-punkish band, and the San Diego lads are very Californian. The tunes are there, and at times they threatened to be great. But then, in exactly the opposite way to Hinds, they dialed back. Not terrible, and a cover of Weezer’s “The Sweater Song” was well received, but they could be so much better if they let themselves off the leashes.
SWMRS, another Californian punk band, do at least try to conjure up the spirits of bands like the Clash and the Buzzcocks. Their problem is slightly different, in that the crowd just didn’t buy into it. There’s something inauthentic about it all despite the fact that, again, there are some beginnings of cool songs in the set. Sure, they've worked with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. They have to get some punk cred for that, at least with the current crop of fans. Overall though, they sound like they're trying to be punk, like they're copying all of their heroes, and few things are less attractive in a band than that.