LIVE: Springfield Elementary @ Soup Kitchen
In 2018 it is not uncommon for bands to take gigs into their own hands in order to stand out and make an impression – as an exciting new act on the scene, Springfield Elementary are no strangers to this. After hosting a similar knock-out Halloween Hoe’down event earlier this year – and now getting into the festive spirit to wrap up 2018 – the psych wide-boys hosted their very-own Christmas “do” down in the basement at Northern Quarter haunt, Soup Kitchen.
On the bill, joining the band were Society of Losers-endorsed trio Salt the Snail. To put it bluntly – the Liverpudlians were, and are, absolute mayhem and manage to balance the line on some unholy alliance between The Oblivians and Goldie Lookin’ Chain. They really are as exciting as that sounds. (Personally, I think they may have sniffed too many felt tips when they were kids, but), with songs in equal-parts catchy and hilarious as ‘Mate’, they must have done something right.
Singer Krystian Hudson is halfway between the most in-yer-face punk frontman you’ve ever seen, and a Music-hall comedian. Salt the Snail decide which songs to play via an exceedingly British, yet totally unconventional, tombola system. Thanks to this, Krystian spends far, far, more time in the audience than he does on stage, subsequently breaking down any barrier that comes between the two. The only time Krystian is on stage for any length is, in fact, when drummer Tom Astley disappears to the lavatory mid-set whereby he kindly takes over duties until the band is back together. Not enough? Salt the Snail even find the time amongst the madness to fit in a spot of caroling between songs. Some in the audience question whether the band does this every gig. The answer is no, but they are always this entertaining.
To get away with shenanigans like these, a band must have some good songs to back it up – Salt the Snail most certainly do. The guys’ latest single ‘Lazerquest’ is profoundly the highlight of their set, arriving early-on against traditional set-list form due to the invisible logic of the tombola. Boy is it a pocket-powerhouse in a couple of minutes. (If you want an extra bit to check out, recently the band put together a really fantastic video for the track which was filmed on location at – you guessed it – a Laserquestcentere! A couple of other well-known figures on the Liverpool music scene feature if you keep your eyes peeled.)
After Salt the Snail are carted off stage, and have been suitably calmed down, it’s time for the guys who put it all together. Starting in a punchy manner, Springfield Elementary’s triumphant headline set kicks off with a shows-over razor-blade instrumental before an upcoming release about Jesus, naturally. And why would it not be, with Springfield’s signature sounds of Pub-Rock from the Deep South – made complete with frontman Billy Goodwin’s Civil War-era moustache.
After following the band for some time, this is Springfield Elementary at their best yet – Goodwin yelps and cries through the more manic numbers, whilst honing his great ability to shift a gear as the band drift in and out of Odessey & Oracle grooves, West Coast rhythms and Brian Jonestown Massacre-esque jams. Tracks like ‘5 Second Rule’ seem to have all of these themes running through simultaneously on the night, and Goodwin’s vocals are strained like a tightrope; they could melt tarmac. Spot on.
From the Kentucky fried Dr. Feelgood start of their set to the meandering jams that warp time back to 1968, Springfield Elementary absolutely smash their stage time into tiny minuscule bits. The band finish their set with a short and chaotic rendition of Screaming Lord Sutch’s excellent 1963 single ‘Jack the Ripper’. A spine-tinglingly good version of the tune, and a great end to the set.
Well, it would’ve marked a great end to the set, but this was not the end. Being a Christmas-gig after all, Springfield Elementary – presumably after a little too much mulled wine – send us home with a rendition of MUD’s 1974 No.1 single ‘Lonely this Christmas’. Goodwin appears swept with Christmas spirit as he croons arm in arm with the band’s odd (yet befittingly trademark) “mascot” skeleton. Springfield Elementary are an absolute cracker, and no… not just for Christmas.