Live Reviews - Reviews

Cruising @ Menagerie, Belfast

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So far, Cruising have been taking things fairly slowly. Though the Belfast/Dublin quartet officially operate under pseudonyms (Benzedrine Black, Sex Grimes, Dan Handle and Dick Vortex), they’re easily recognisable to anyone who has even a passing interest in Irish music at the moment, made up as they are of members of Girls Names, Sea Pinks, September Girls and the now defunct Logikparty. Another one of Sunglasses After Dark’s top notch events, without a support act The Menagerie slowly fills up to the sounds of The Stooges and other assorted proto-punk bands, which sets the tone for what’s to come. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect of Cruising’s set, having only released one single, ‘You Made Me Do That’ so far. The track, a blissfully fuzzed out, two chord garage-punk stomper, was released on very limited edition cassette through Scottish label Soft Power back in April of last year, but with no other official releases and with two later Soundcloud demos having since been deleted, anyone seeing them for the first time is left slightly in the dark.

Based on the single, one naturally expects an excitingly loose, charmingly sloppy set, but nothing could be further from the truth, as they’ve clearly spent the past year honing their sound. Despite the time presumably taken up by their other projects, they’re gradually becoming a well oiled machine. Neil Brogan and Claire Miskimmin swap guitar and bass duties throughout, Miskimmin bringing across her ear for a reliably hypnotic bassline from Girls Names, and their contrasting guitar styles work well – Miskimmin more rough and ready; Brogan swapping his trademark Sea Pinks jangle for more distortion and greater use of effects, but both come armed with an abundance of highly addictive riffs. Benni Johnston’s vocals are low in the mix but cut through the noise on the menacing ‘The Spectacle’ as she tangles herself up in wires, and ‘You Made Me Do That’ is ten times as powerful live as on record, as Miskimmin really cuts loose, like MC5 in their prime.

Despite a few technical difficulties mid-set, held together by some instrumental jamming led by Sarah Grimes’ pounding drums, it’s a fierce set and one which severely whets the appetite for some more recorded output from Cruising. Cathal McBride