Space In The 50's/Kutosis/Tyler Rhys: Cardiff Howard Gardens Tommy's Bar, 27/04/07

Tommy's Bar usually put on a pretty decent calibre of local band (they've got the previously-reved-about-by-me King Alexander on their upcoming gigs list, though sadly on the same night as the Manics), and tonight's no exception.

Tyler Rhys deals in impassioned (don't worry, not in a Stereophonics way), accomplished indie-punk with an offbeat post-punk undertow and some barbed, socially-aware lyrics. There's a definite post-Manics thing going on here - he seems to be borrowing their trick of writing from a female point of view on a couple of tracks, but it works - and in places I'm reminded of nothing so much as Miss Black America. The music's never predictable: the cynical sneer of standout track "Plastic Fortune" is smeared over a surprisingly funky guitar line, and an acoustic change of pace later on in the set keeps the audience interested. Damn fine stuff.

I've got some idea of what to expect from Kutosis -- driven, political punk -- and I'm expecting something in the powerchord-heavy Johny Panic vein. They share a similar righteously pissed-off ethos, but what we actually get sounds a lot dirtier: a spiky, snotty mess of Clash/Jam noise with a pitch-perfect Strummer sneer in the vocals. And they look just like they sound, two big scary bruisers, two skinny punkrats who could have stepped straight out of 1976. Derivative? Okay, but, as a very wise man once said, how can it be a cliché if you weren't there first time round? There's way more energy, fire and intelligence in this than in 99.9999999% of what's touted as 'exciting' new music, and in this age of emo haircut bands and brainded New Rave hedonism, rock and roll needs agitators more than ever.

Last up are the hard-rocking Space In The 50's. They have rubbish cock-rock haircuts and rubbish cock-rock t-shirts and look like a rubbish cock-rock band, and I really don't want to like them - but their energy's so infectious I can't help it. They grin their heads off and shout and jump around a lot (if the stage had walls they'd be bouncing off them), and deliver thunderous bass and pogo-inducing riffs aplenty. Not too sure about the barely-audible samples they use as outros, but maybe they'd make sense in a venue with a better PA. Anyway, they may not be in the same league as the first two acts, but it's still good, noisy fun and over far too quickly.

Jess Trash