• London
  • United Kingdom
  • Islington Acadamy
  • 2006-03-09

Calla is made up of Aurelio Valle, Wayne Magruder, and Peter Gannon and are now on their fourth album of skyscraping gloom-rock, Collisions, and this show was part of a short tour to promote it.

…their live set up strips back the studio depth

Like US alt-rock peers Autolux and BRMC they tread somewhat the furrow created by the backcombed, eyelinered likes of The Cure but also MBV’s hypnotic, dense wall-of-guitar effect. Like that latter band, frontman Aurelio Valle’s vocals can be found swirling in the mix both live and on record, almost hidden but still a perceptable part of the overall effect. Their live set up strips back the studio depth — just bass, a single guitar, drums and a few additional electronics — but they did not lose any of the effect.

This was a performance of stripped back simplicity, and tended to choose the ethereal qualities of the music that Calla seem in thrall to (like Ride or Slowdive) than the noisy extremes of similar modern alt-rock groups. Most recent single, “It Dawned On Me” and album track “Initiate” were marvellous downbeat pop songs with the edge that the likes of Interpol like to pepper their albums with. “Fear of Fireflies” shuffled along in the encore, sounding like a country/shoegazing hybrid (similar to some of Calexico’s output). “So Far, So What” was the centrepiece to it all — a ten minute epic showcasing great guitar playing from Valle which built to a superb racket.

…the three bandmembers were unassuming to the point of shyness

There was very little between song communication between band and audience and the three bandmembers were unassuming to the point of shyness, fine in a small venue like this but if they start playing bigger (and they probably will) they might need more stage presence to maintain the same intensity of delivery.

In the end it was kind of apt that this affair should take place in the venue that also hosts “Feeling Gloomy”, a club night that proclaims to bring you the saddest, most melancholy music known to man. I was tempted to go for a clever pun to finish — like ‘super Calla fragile instincts, wig-outs are ferocious!’ But instead I’ll keep it simple. They rock (slowly and surely).

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