Monday 20:00, The Crofter’s Rights, Bristol 3/10/16
Sparkling are a 3 piece from Cologne comprising of brothers Leon and Levin Krasel on lead guitar/ vocals and drums, Luca Schüten on bass. Tonight they play alongside ‘Buckfast Crimewave’ (psudonym for one of Bristol’s biggest bands in recent years ‘Spectres’, who aren’t used to playing support and so changed their name in what one can only imagine is out of fear of losing street cred), Yo No Se and LICE, who headline the show.
Things get off to a slow start at the Crofter’s and I manage to get a chance to chat with the boys, who seem humbled by the prospect of touring the UK despite the fact that it is notoriously shit for looking after international bands. With no rider, no accommodation, and little remuneration, it is unclear as to what Sparkling will get out of this overseas jaunt apart from exposure, which I guess is as good a reason as any. It turns out that one of the brothers is at art school, and has been given a hefty maintenance grant with which they have decided to tour their new music.. A sad reminder of how great Europe is- most of us know that that sort of thing would never happen here, even before #brexit.
Anyway, after rambling on about our respective cultures and the awesome CD design that the boys have come up with to reflect the core of what their EP ‘this is not the paradise they told us we would live in’ encapsulates (the cover is a warped mirror, see what I did there), it is time for them to play.
Immediately, I get the impression that this band are far more indie than post- punk, which is a tag that they seem to be often affiliated with. Reminding me a bit of Jamie T (a la Sheila), the singer and guitarist bounce up and down like firecrackers at the front of the stage while the drummer pounds his (/ LICE’s) instrument. Sparkling have a unique style.. so unique that they really do seem to utilise the same musical formula for most of their repertoire. Not to say that this get’s tiresome at all, but it does sometimes feel as though the singer is always teetering on the edge of letting loose and going a bit nuts, but never quite manages to allow himself to get there. The style in question is quite simply short rhythmic strums on the guitar which form the melodic basis of the song, an accompanying fast paced heavy drumbeat, and vocals that, I hate to say this, feel very Germanic in their rigidity and accentuated kick. Is this a winning formula? I couldn’t possibly comment, but one cannot deny that there is not a note/word/ beat out of place for the entire performance- the band are tighter than something really tight, like a jam jar that you can’t unscrew.
The contrast created between aggressive lyricism and classic indie chords leaves the audience slightly stunned in Bristol, but you can’t help imagining that in Germany, Sparkling must be used to far livelier gigs than this, probably with nicer people, a nicer paycheck, and nice warm meal inside them before the action. A stand out number of the night was definitely ‘Something Like You’, the first track of their EP, which I would recommend looking up, if only to marvel at its glorious visual aesthetics.