Live Review from Underground Rocks 2023!
The Cummings way
Corner of my eye
Learn to Fly (Foo Fighters cover)
Is this a reality
Ode to music
Since they were very small, Saxon and Jarvis Whittaker have been jamming together, first as the duo Case Sensitive; now, in their mid-late-teens as fully fledged rock trio Whitt’s End, with the addition of Theo Robinson on drums.
The band proved one of The Undeground’s most exciting and popular openers in recent memory, storming out of the gate with The Cummings Way and instantly evoking the likes of The Stooges and early Iron Maiden with high tempo smashing and riffing. Third track Hey Charlie hit right in the early-noughties with guitar stabs that evoked the jangling melodies of The Kooks or Razorlight for a super catchy, energy-filled vibe-shifter.
“This song is dedicated to anyone who had to get a plane here,” was how the band introduced Turbulence, which blended a jumpy bass lick with a phasing guitar effect, harking to the American rock of bands like Television. “Pour yourself a drink and let’s be friends,” sang Saxon. The energy of the room obliged.
The only cover in their set was a fine adaptation of Foo Fighters’ Learn to Fly: an eternal classic. With Saxon’s voice cracking at the edges, the song took on more of a gritty punk feel while Jarvis’ guitar droned in and out dreamily. The lyrical section of the song’s bridge was omitted to let an impressive solo shine, adding the band’s own spin on an eternal classic.
Set closers Is This a Reality? and Ode to Music were equally filled with attitude; the latter paired revving riffs with a bobbling bass in the vein of Dinosaur Jr and early Weezer, calling to mind the hazy distortion that defined early MTV. Theo scowled out from behind his fringe as he smashed his cymbals, causing the crowd to leap. The band thanked the crowd before signing off with a heavy breakdown to finish. It was an Underground debut to treasure, and marked attendance at this three-piece’s coming shows as mandatory.
– El Jay