If I had to pick a theme for my taste in music lately, it’d be “up-and-coming Brit rock acts”. Last year i fell in love with Catfish & The Bottlemen (who’s new album, The Ride, is due out next Friday 5/27), Glass Animals blew us away last fall with their show at The Ogden, and now, it’s Nothing But Thieves’ turn to burn up our Spotify playlists. This past Tuesday night we got the chance to see our favorite new UK friends in full form at the Larimer Lounge, and despite an all-too-short set and some minor technical difficulties, these young rockers feel seem like they’re out to prove something (and I think they’re succeeding).
The five piece from Essex released their first record, a self titled album in October of 2015 in the UK, and it released stateside in February of this year. Their radio single “Trip Switch” skyrocketed on charts in the fall of 2015, but for American fans, there was little else about the band available other than a few singles smattered across YouTube and Spotify. For a group that’s been steadily growing a fanbase in England since 2013, their introduction to the U.S. has been a slow moving courtship.
Tuesday’s show was certainly a good representation of the bands progress so far: the venue was filled with a mix of diehard fans and curious listeners unfamiliar with more than their name. Opening the night with “Itch”, it was immediately clear that the group wasn’t afraid to hold back. With lead singer Conor Mason putting his distinct voice to work on the chorus, and guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown using the little stage space he had, the band was ready to give the tiny venue as much of a performance as it could handle. Despite some mic issues at the end of “Itch” continuing into “Painkiller”, the fans didn’t let up on their excitement, carrying the energy of the show whilst the band worked out their technical issues.
Nothing But Thieves’ sound is familiar without being predictable. A blend of alternative rock rhythms, pop hooks, and emotional lyrics that lend themselves well to slow songs (“Graveyard Whistling”, “Lover, Please Stay”), the album is coherent without feeling mundane. Each track presents a different side of music as a whole, unrestricted by genre. Tracks like “Ban All The Music” (which ended their set) pays homage to the bands clear rock roots, but they expand on their sound with the danceable rhythms of “Hostage”, the radio-worthy hook of “Trip Switch”, and the beautiful ballad “Lover, Please Stay”. Much to my surprise, the band played “Lover, Please Stay” live on Tuesday, and Mason’s vocals were mind blowing. His ability to seamlessly slip in and out of his falsetto and make use of his strong vibrato wowed the crowd. So often it feels like we hear vocalists who can record well, but either choose or cannot produce the same effortless performances live. Mason’s vocal abilities are strong in a live setting, and live up to (if not surpass) your expectations. Another big surprise on Tuesday was the group’s choice to cover The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind”, who they mention in their Spotify track-by-track commentary as one of their major inspirations.
Although the set felt far too short (subtracting their time spent on mic issues, the show was 35-40minutes prior to a 15min encore), the band covered their bases, offering enough to satisfy listeners, but leave them hungry for more. We don’t have a date for the next time we’ll have Nothing But Thieves in Colorado, but the group is touring extensively through the summer, making appearances at the Bottlerock Festival in Napa, CA, Lollapalooza, and Reading & Leeds back in the UK in August.