In interview and hanging around the merch table, Maya Miller and Becky Black of The Pack a.d. are quiet and calm. It's clearly an energy conservation strategy because as soon as they hit the stage they have the same effect as fireworks let off in a confined space, spraying a storm of noise and burning with a magnesium energy. If Becky has a badly sprained ankle, it's a good job her physio isn't present as she leaps around fearlessly, dragging tunes out of her guitars as she screams into the microphone and dances on damaged tendons. Maya meanwhile dispels any comparisons with other two-piece garage-rock bands by thrashing her kit so mercilessly it's a wonder that the skins don't burst. There's no let up in pace, just smash-and-thrash punky pop succeeded by metallic riffs, particularly on the brutal ‘Big Anvil’. It's no wonder that they decline shouts of "just one more song", looking and sweating like they're totally shagged (they’ve already played one afternoon gig today at Brighton’s Great Escape festival). There's not a huge crowd tonight in the Windmill but they're shocked and awed that one twosome can produce such a blitzkrieg of sound – as my ears still testify, hours later.
Waiting for the band, the first person I notice in the audience is Mark Woods, ex-Do Me Bad Things and now in Junkyard Choir, and I just assume he’s come over all indie. Then Gentlemen’s Agreement take the stage and I recognise the members from Do Me Bad Things too. That was a band on a major label with minor success, probably because they had as many styles as they had members and could never reconcile their rock tendency with their glamour pop and belting soul sound. Wedged between a tyro indie band and a garage-rock duo, Gentlemen’s Agreement are a strange filling, especially when they kick off their set with 70s funk and finish with soulful rock (or rockful r’n’b). Chantal confirms that she has a fine set of tubes but the band’s sound is a bit undefined at best, undistinguished otherwise.
The bad news for The Good News is that you can’t find out anything about them on the web with that vague name (which they share with other bands – oops). They’re indie newcomers, so young that Gillette probably make no money from them yet, but they’re full of energy and an admirable cheek. Right now they sound the sort of band who’d be good at parties, combining cabaret-style tunes (surely they’re too young to know the Bonzos?) and rebellion rockers. Nice that they were allowed to stay up late for this gig…