MassMatiks – The Key Club, Leeds (9th May 2017)

MassMatiks don’t mean to be confrontational, they just are. Playing at the Key Club in Leeds, a venue as intimate as the bar is cheap, their urgency, excitement and ability to connect with the audience meant that when they left the stage for the headline act to come on they took all the atmosphere with them.

It never came back. Awkward.

MassMatiks are an articulate bunch whose lyrics are relatable, well crafted and of the moment. They sing about pub brawls, break ups and the dissatisfaction of young adulthood. They capture the zeitgeist of post Brexit UK, young hip and angry and they do it with aplomb, if you saw them on a street corner you’d cross to the other side because they look a little dangerous. You’d be wrong because appearances are in their case mostly deceptive. Yes, the bouncing whirlwind of swagger which is George Peploe the vocalist is a kick boxer and probably could take on anyone in this room but his lopsided grin suggests he’d rather not. In fact their whole set, delivered at full pace and with all guns blazing, is a mixture of good humoured bombastic bravado and bluster with a healthy dose of sarcasm “you what? I’m right here come on, talk is cheap and you know it..”. More likely to hug you then glass you MassMatiks are truly charming and Leeds fell for them in a big way on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday evening.

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They know how to put on a show, even in the cramped conditions a support act has to put up with. Peploe dodged a few guitar heads being flung about by the equally energetic instrumentalists, almost fell off the monitors and managed, with great style, to catch his own microphone over his forearm (it turns out he’s not usually trusted with the mic until stage time as he has a tendency to leave it places). Their music is expansive, a half sung, half spoken poetic diatribe set over a driving bass, guitar work with riffs which stay with you and solid drumming, they sound like an funky NuMetal/punk crossover, think Henry Rollins if he’d been hanging out with James Brown. When an act can get the audience singing along you know they’re onto something, when the audience continue and sing counterpoint to the vocalist they’ve cracked it. MassMatiks should be playing big venues, go and see them while they aren’t, it’s special.