ROWAN CALLOWAY cycles out to discover the Chesterton indie scene.

Arctic Monkeys barat calloway Chesterton Crocodiles florence & the machine Florence and the Machine haymakers Indie rowan san diego

October 6th, 8pm at The Haymakers. £7


The Crocodiles saunter on stage. Despite the momentary disappointment at the loss of Brandon Welchez’ Bob Dylan mop, they look good. No greetings or small talk, bassist Charles Rowell starts to play, Welchez’ abrasive drawl perfectly complementing the San Diego’s band’s new hazier, psychedelic sound. The group have distanced themselves from hardcore and noise,  movements known for their prescriptive rules, embracing hooks and lilting melodies: combined with the edge and aggression of their earlier work, this has produced some great new tunes.

The Crocodiles get tired of the constant comparison to The Jesus and Mary Chain but the sibling-like bond of Welchez and Rowell invites it. The pair met at a local punk-scene anti-fascist meeting in high school and since then have played in several bands together. More recently, the band spent time in the studio working on “Sleep Forever” with James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco) who has produced for the Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine and Test Icicles. Chatting with Welchez after the show, I sensed that the decision to work with Ford was a conscious departure from the “lo-fi” label with which they are most associated. I asked Welchez where he sees the Crocodiles in 5 years time. He laughs. The Crocodiles do what they want.

Having previously performed with pre-programmed synth and drum loops, the band now play as a five piece; having recruited a bassist, drummer and organist. This setup lends a far more organic feel to the music, and the performance is incredibly tight. “Neon Jesus” kicks in and Welchez’ spasms border on epileptic. Unfortunately his enthusiasm for movement isn’t shared by many of the audience. The Haymakers regularly hosts talented bands (Carl Barat on the 16th, for example) but the distance keeps students away- Chesterton seems to be just too far from Reality Checkpoint.

With the lights down, and with the charisma of a band so completely at ease with their music, the pub was transformed into a platform for the best of Cambridge indie. With music of tonight’s calibre at a reasonable price, this place is worth the cycle.