Prior to hitting up Heebie’s basement on Friday night, I’d never seen the phenomenon known as CABBAGE live. Sure, I’d heard lots about the band’s live prowess, but their neo-post-punk mayhem is definitely one of those things you have to experience for yourself, sweat and all. On arrival, all I was going on were the band’s tantalising previous EPs, and the fact they’ve perked enough ears to be longlisted for the BBC’s Sound of 2017. Oh, and the fact this tour is completely sold out.
The Shimmer Band // Photo Credit: DirtyRoknRoller Photography
Following a couple of decent sets from fellow Neighbourhood Festival successes April and The Shimmer Band, Mossley-bred CABBAGE hit the stage. If it was a little stuffy before they appeared, the oxygen practically run out about ten minutes into CABBAGE’S set – and no one seemed to care. One of the most enthusiastic crowds I’ve ever been swamped in took over EBGBS that night. And it was clear this band don’t appeal to just one type of person either – we had the young (some patronising git asked if I was old enough to be there,) we had the middle-aged, the kids, the parents – and everyone bounced as much as each other. Well, other than the raucous event happening directly in front of the stage; that was twice as frisky again.
CABBAGE are incensed by society, and this came out from the first chord to fill our ears. By the end of Indispensable Pencil, band members’ shirts were being lost, and the crowd didn’t seem to show any signs of quietening down. A clear crowd favourite was Terrorist Synthesizer, a track crowned with a riff both catchy and full of attitude. If music alone was sarcastic, that’s a portion of CABBAGE’S sound. And it clearly resonates with people. The crowd jump and shout along, looking somewhere between blowing off steam and ready to start a revolution. We also heard the equally driven Necroflat in the Palace, with the entire room chanting ‘I was born in the NHS’ at all the right moments. Towards the end of the band’s set, Bill Ryder-Jones (formerly guitarist in The Coral, now an artist in his own right) made a guest appearance and joined CABBAGE onstage for the slightly less hectic Because You’re Worth It, not that the crowd were any less riotous.
I’ve seen people dismiss CABBAGE as ‘not for me,’ but before you make up your mind, there’s more to this band than immediately meets the ear. It’s clever – layer upon layer of crafted musical rebellion. Here there’s a thin line between ‘not for me’ and simply being confused; CABBAGE are as much about their lyrics as they are about their sound. Personally, I find myself entranced by the Mossley five-piece’s combination of earworm riffs, resonating lyrics, and unbelievable energy.
At one point, the bloke behind me shouted ‘What a f****ing tune’ and I reckon that just about summed up the night – great music, and great defiance of social constraint. This year, next year. They’re current, catchy, and opinionated. Catch CABBAGE before they slip through your fingers – they’re going to be huge.
Young, Dumb and Full of…. is out now via digital purchase, streaming service. Physical copies available soon.