Since their first gig in early February 2018, Fake Empire have become a live act to be reckoned with.
The Portsmouth trio’s indie-rock is unstinting in its aspirations – they are not afraid to reach for the skies, and rarely fall short.
Aside from a technical problem early on with their ‘fourth member’, an Apple MacBook, their support set is as assured as regular watchers have come to appreciate. And in former single The Sadness Will Last Forever they have a proper anthem.
Following this could be problem for lesser performers, but Curbwire are experienced enough not to be phased.
Frontman Chris Perrin had a brush with fame in his turn-of-the-century band, Thirst. There were big-name support slots and favourable reviews in the national rock press. But sadly it wasn’t to be.
Refusing to be bowed by the experience Perrin has kept plugging away with various projects.
READ MORE: How Curbwire came to make their debut album
As lead vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter, Curbwire is his latest vehicle. This gig is to mark the launch of the band’s self-titled debut album, and by Chris’s admission, it’s had a lengthy and at times troubled gestation.
But you wouldn’t know that from the display here tonight – the four-piece are tight.
Hitting the ground at full-pelt with album opener Non-Binary, they barrel straight into track two Solid Gold without pause.
It’s only after their third song that they break for breath.
All 10 tracks from the album get an outing, albeit in a shaken up order.
While the music cleaves largely to Chris’s trademark alt-rock and grunge, it doesn’t sacrifice its emotional weight on the altar of musical heaviness.
Perrin is not afraid to go for the catchy melody, or the occasional bludgeoning passage of riffola.
But it’s not solely his show, Curbwire are definitely a unit – Steve Bull on drums, Harrison Stone on guitar and Greg Choszcz on bass are all key components to the band’s sound.
There are songs here that could quite easily become ear-worms after a few more listens.
The one band who leap to mind as a reference are American post-hardcore legends Rival Schools.
There’s heavy-riffing aplenty, with Waves standing out, as does Signals with its ‘woah, woah!’-laden chorus. Neither would shame a rock radio station’s playlist.
With a stable line-up and an excellent debut album as their calling card, things are looking good for Curbwire’s future.