Arriving at this show, the omens weren’t great. Fledgling venue Spanky Van Dykes haven’t done the best job of advertising this show- indeed, there is no mention of it on their website- so the crowd is pretty sparse. Those who do make the trek, though, are treated to something pretty special. I spent the first half of openers Wonderswan’s enjoyable 20 minute set trying to work out who they reminded me off until I realised it was the Wedding Present, the lead singer even having a similar atonal voice to David Gedge. Though slightly awkward on stage, their set of tight melodic indie went down very well. Friendship are the next band on the bill and are, in a word, terrific. A duo consisting of a singing drummer and a guitarist, their sound follows a simple, yet successful formula of up-tempo loop pedals followed by a phenomenal wall of sound which is even more impressive coming from just two men. Single ‘Lifeguard epitomises their sound, with the reverb on the singer’s vocals creating a powerful chanting effect. Set closer ‘The Graveyard Shift’ sees the pair kick it into overdrive, bursting through it at breakneck speed and even finishing the song with a blast of Nirvana’s ‘Breed’. The bass is so powerful that it sends a pint glass tumbling from our table. This leaves Baltimore post-punks Double Dagger with a tricky act to follow, and the sight of three unassuming looking men taking to the stage doesn’t suggest we’re in for anything too heavy. However, the moment it is announced that bass player Bruce Willen is putting on his “nerd straps” to stop his glasses flying off during the set, this misconception is cast aside. This is their first ever UK show and, even if the crowd numbers barely 20, the band still give it everything they’ve got. Singer Nolen Strals explodes around the venue like a hyperactive child, crawling around the floor, tangling up various audience members in his microphone cable and even terrorising us cowards at the back. Strals spends half of the last song singing with his head stuffed up the head of an audience member’s cardigan, dragging him across the stage like a demented Pied piper. This would all count for nothing if the music was terrible, but their angular, punchy set is fantastic, Willen and drummer Denny Bowen holding together a tight ship with Strals dominating proceedings from the front. Musically, they bring to mind the likes of Fugazi, whilst Strals vocals sound like Hold Steady singer Craig Finn if someone was assaulting a voodoo effigy of him. They’re barely on stage for half a hour, but clearly leave an engaged crowd wanting more and while this may be their first time in town, hopefully it wont be their last. http://www.myspace.com/doubledaggersucks http://www.myspace.com/thegoodfriendship http://www.myspace.com/wonderswanband