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  • Writer's pictureLeon Riccio

COURTING: The Reading gig, the latest album, and the agogo

Glitchy post-punk outfit Courting played to a packed-out Facebar while stopping through Reading on the last leg of the tour, following the debut album release ‘Guitar Music’ last month.

After frantic art-rockers Gag Salon and indie-cool girl band Deep Tan opened up the show to the sea of beanies, denim jackets, and unusual facial hair filing into the Berkshire venue, a fake radio broadcast played introducing the Liverpudlian four-piece as they clambered onto the stage.

The show on Thursday night opened with crowd-favourite ‘Tennis’, the lead single from the new album with a driving, grunting, post-Brexit melody where the lyrics revolve around a seedy kind of love you can acquire for a fee.

The band proceeded to roll around in their reasonably-depthy discography, switching between songs from the new album including ‘Jumper and ‘Crass’, and some older singles such as ‘David Bryne’s Badside’ and ‘Popshop!’, save for some unexpected but pleasantly surprising covers of Charlie XCX’s ‘I Love it’, and later ABBA’s ‘Mamma Mia’.

Sean’s liberal use of cowbell, agogo, and voice distortion kept the show pleasantly unserious - which couldn’t be exemplified better by the performance of ‘Slow Burner’, which degenerated into what must have been a ten-minute guitar-noodling sesh in front of a packed audience.

Needless to say, this was brave of the band, but I think the decision was saved by Sean letting crowd members have a go on the agogo and Josh playing the guitar in the belly of the room. That, and the random Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns 'n' Roses riffs.

Throughout the show, populated by teenagers and approving middle-aged men, the whole front half of the packed-out venue was moshing to the punkish drums and half-lucid vocals.

At one point, frontman Sean tells the crowd that “Reading has been our best gig so far.”

“It’s a shithole”, yelled a crowd member.

Closing the set with an encore of ‘Football’, although playing it faster than the first time around, Sean stood half-smug, half-unphased at the carnage unfurling in front of the stage. Despite the band plainly not taking themselves too seriously, it was undeniably cool to see.

Speaking after the show, Sean Murphy-O’Neill said: “It’s our first time properly playing a headline show in Reading, so it’s nice to be here and I’m glad people have had a good time.

“The tour so far has been a lot better than we expected to be honest. We realised we had been routed through lots of smaller places we hadn’t played before - we’ve played Exeter, Plymouth, Bournemouth, and Southampton - four places in a part of the country we’ve never really played in, and every gig has been packed.

“It’s kind of mad to us to see places that are more off-the-track for gig circuits going down as hard as they did.”

The 21-year-old frontman added: “People have been responding really well to the album - it has generally been received well, but there’s been a lot of mixed criticism. There’s a few people who are really intense with comparing things, and I like to read what people think we sound like and assess whether they’re correct in their criticisms.

“I think it’s nice to hear what people are saying, and it’s always good to see where you can improve on, but it’s just knowing whether you should listen to what someone says.

“We want to make something a bit out-there and weird, but at its core it should still be fun. A lot of bands sacrifice fun for being complex. it’s almost like a pissing contest to see who’s more headache-inducing.
"You can have aspects of being experimental without isolating people who want to go out and have a good time.
“That's why we love pop music so much as a band, because it touches on being experimental a lot easier than rock music does.

“After this we’re on to our next record. It’s boring to look at it as a schedule, but the best way to look at it is we’ve done the tour, lets see what we can do better next year.

“A lot of it is already done, it’s a lot of work but we’re getting there. It’s really good. I think it's better than the last one - I can say that now that this one’s out. I think we honed in on what we want to do more.”

You can hear Courting’s debut album Guitar Music on Youtube and Spotify, or follow their Instagram (@courtingband).

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