The transition from basement clubs to massive opportunities, like 2015’s Warped Tour, other tours supporting seasoned genre acts such as Man Overboard and Major League, and a new deal with Hopeless Records, has been swift and deserved.
On this, their second UK headlining tour, Moose Blood continue to prove not only to fans, but to themselves, that they are a force to be reckoned with in the pop-punk realm. I first saw Moose Blood in New York (an American writing about a show in Glasgow? Gasp!) on their short headlining outing this past summer after having spent the previous months fawning over I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time. What’s so striking about the band’s music is their brutal honesty about the reality in which it was born. There’s real pain and crisis being put center stage in the lyrics, themes of loneliness and being forced to grow up too fast, and frontman Eddy Brewerton makes effortless work of getting it across without crossing into the forbidden territory of melodrama. I still tear up, quite literally, whenever I hear “Cherry”. Their sophomore effort, Blush, shows the band taking what they’ve learned about their music, their career, and each other to new territory, and from the first moment of “Pastel” you know you’re hearing a Moose Blood that has grown both as musicians and friends. Based on the overwhelming support I saw in that little basement club in the US just days before the release of Blush, I couldn’t have been more excited to see what a show on their own turf might look like.
Walking up the stairs of The Garage and through the dim, pink-fluorescent lit corridors wallpapered with hundreds of band names, the energy was palpable. In the days leading up to the show I’d been circling around the Facebook event and I saw something unique that I’d only seen rarely, if ever, on my side of the world – militant watchdogs discouraging and campaigning against third-party ticket sellers jacking up the price of admission. The promoters took extraordinary care to ensure that every fan would have an equal and fair opportunity to support the music, and it was a beautiful thing. Not only that, but the show would also be an opportunity for fans to help support the Glasgow Rape Crisis Center.
Going in, it was clear that there was a culture of love in Glasgow’s music scene, and the reciprocal love between band and fan would be even clearer onstage later on. The night began with sets from phenomenal Blackpool outfit Boston Manor, who got the early crowd going and fast, followed by hard-edged crowd pleasers Luca Brasi, who continued to gather and stockpile the building excitement of the crowd. Turnover’s more mellow and ethereal sound brought the energy back down a touch, but it allowed the atmosphere a chance to breathe and gave the pace of the night room to rear back, wind up, and prepare for the full-blown outpouring to follow. By the time Turnover left the stage, the crowd had swelled with latecomers and threatened to burst forth over the barrier and onto the stage. Eager fans, myself included, vented our gathered energy singing along to pop-punk classics from Sum 41 and The Used that filled the space between songs. Come 9:00, the room grew dark, the stage bathed in misty pink fluorescent backlight from the amps, kick drum, and stage floor. The house music faded, and Moose Blood climbed the stage to thunderous applause. I recall noting the sincere and surprised smiles on the band’s faces as they looked out upon what represented everything they’ve accomplished in their still very young career as they launched into track one of both the show and their new record, “Pastel”. From there on, throughout the entire show, it seemed as though every person in the room was connected to the band and each other. A 500-person chorus of voices sang every word. Crowdsurfers crossed over heads and hands toward the front of the room in a near-constant stream.
Halfway through the set, Eddy, with a crack in his throat, thanked the audience for being there and for supporting them, and we thanked him back. The set weaved in and out between songs new and old, and when the song called for jumping, we felt it and jumped. When it called for fist-pumping, hundreds of hands went up. When “Cherry” rolled around, the band eased into it with a grace that put every hand down and every crowdsurfer back on the feet, and as Eddy laid bare his letter to someone miles away, each person sang along quietly to themselves. I’m certain more than a few tears hit the ground among the plastic cups to mix with the sweaty steam heat that came to rest underneath; later on, through pale light and artificial fog during “Spring”, more of the same.
Moose Blood have a unique and tremendous command over the stage and their audience and the surges of energy punctuated by smooth drops into down-tempo songs demonstrate a sixth-sense for performance. They do it quietly and patiently; there’s no room, and no need, for banter or preachy monologues. They and their music speak for themselves, and it’s a wonderful thing to see earnest music capture the spotlight. The songs are about holding onto hope, appreciating the little things when everything else gets rough, and recognizing and relying on the love of those around you. They have a lot of love to give, and a lot of people ready to give it back.