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Review: Crawlers @ Rough Trade

Aditi Hrisheekesh takes us through a particularly intimate performance from Crawlers, celebrating the release of their first record in a charming acoustic style

By Aditi Hrisheekesh, First Year English

As I entered Rough Trade, I found myself immediately immersed within a sea of vibrant hair-dye and striking eyeliner, setting the stage for the kaleidoscope of emotions that would define the night. Lead vocalist Holly Minto took to the stage with her charismatic wit, the entire band effortlessly exuding a confident punk swagger. 

Celebrating their debut album The Mess We Seem To Make, the audience was treated to a performance stripped down to its rawest form: the unplugged setting elevated the experience, turning Rough Trade into a vessel of heightened emotions. The stripped-back performance allowed the raw emotive lyrics to pulsate through the intimate venue, bathed in the glow of fairy lights and murky purple light, enabling the audience to foster a deeper connection with the band and lending the night a dream-like quality.

Starting the evening with ‘Call it Love’, Holly’s compelling vocals pooled through the space against the canvas of soft guitar passages, allowing waves of grungy sound to glide like smoke through the air. Cementing the strong relationship with the fanbase, the band orchestrated an atmosphere that was not only emotive but amicable, with Holly Minto breaking up the performance with charismatic banter and funny quips that seamlessly tied the threads between each song. The quartet ultimately created a dynamic interplay of sound, each instrument complementing the other in a symphony of fervour and intensity. It was more than just a concert; it was an immersive and interactive journey, a healing experience.

Having previously released two EPs in the past three years, anchored by an ardent fanbase, The Mess We Seem to Make ignites the already blazing fire of the band's popularity, fuelling their ascent to new heights. Addressing issues that plague today's youth, such as mental health, trauma, and insecurity, the album explores a myriad of emotions and life experiences. It serves as an ode to coming of age: the eclectic tapestry of sound that coloured the night acted as a musical mirror for the enigmatic journey of growing up.

Throughout the night, a sense of nostalgia permeated the air – lost within the alt-rock soundscape and shadowy purple light, it felt like the music was able to unpick the seams of messy emotions that are reminiscent of being fifteen. A sound inspired by the staple rock bands of the 90s such as Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins wedded well with a vulnerability imbued within the performance that bore echoes of Fiona Apple and Phoebe Bridgers. It is this tapestry of influence and eclectic sound that makes Crawlers remarkably unique, constructing a multifaceted soundscape that is both familiar but entirely their own.

The raw emotion cascading through the intimate space made it feel like being in the centre of a beating heart, with the audience swaying in unison, creating a palpable pulse that breathed even more life into the eclectic sonic journey. From poignant lyrics anchored by a soft yet powerful bassline in ‘Meaningless Sex’ to the fervent crescendo of ‘What I Know is What I Love’, the performance was a whirlwind of human emotion, a cathartic journey through past wounds toward newfound resilience. The intimacy of the unplugged setting made the lyrics feel suspended in the air, urging us to submerge ourselves within them and confront the narratives of our own lives.

Whilst the release of the debut album signals the band's progression into the future, the final song of the night, ‘Come Over (Again)', prompted reflection on the remarkable journey they have traversed. It is no wonder that this defining song, which went viral on TikTok in 2021, found a secure seat on the debut album. An apt end to an emotional night, the audience united in shouting the iconic lyric: Take her name out of your mouth, you don’t deserve to mourn. In the end, as the last note splayed out into the night, it was evident that Crawlers had created more than just music; they had crafted an emotional time capsule, inviting us to revel in the messiness of being human: indeed, the mess we seem to make.

Featured Image: Aditi Hrisheekesh

Which concerts have you seen that felt healing in some way?