Starcrawler is part of a crop of current American bands, like The Lemon Twigs and Greta Van Fleet, that despite different musical styles all have in common, they find their primary influences in the music of the sixties and seventies. The music press has described all these bands as examples of bands that might save rock music (whatever that means).
The fourpiece from Los Angeles (in their late teens and early twenties) comes across as a case study of The Cramps, Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper. Not the worst bands to learn and take inspiration from, but a reminder that it’s so damn difficult to be original in the 2010s.
So, originality is pretty much out of the question. The best thing a current young rock band can do is emulate their influences to the best of their abilities. Hopefully, their younger audiences won’t be aware, or won’t care, that what they’re watching on stage has already been done many times before and that their older audiences will enjoy the nostalgia.
The three male musicians, Austin Smith (drums), Tim Franco (bass) and Henri Cash (guitar and backing vocals), enter the stage and start playing a psychotic mess of noise. A perfect sonic setting for singer Arrow de Wilde to arrive dressed in a straitjacket and hospital-gown, with a deranged look on her face. Freeing herself from the straitjacket, she releases her voice on the room as if singing her troubles to her therapist disguised as an audience.
It’s a mental art performance for sure, but it never feels dangerous or out of hand, even when de Wilde later in the evening sprays ‘blood’ at members of the audience in the first rows. But it’s effective and adds extra life to the songs. She’s a strong stage presence and very entertaining to watch.
Also, the guitarist, Henri Cash, is a sight to behold. Working his way through every move and strut known to rock guitarists from the 1950s to the present, he’s mobile to the point of exhilaration while maintaining a high-quality level of guitar playing throughout.
Starcrawler play Ants, their upbeat, punkish current single with lyrics like, ‘I got ants when I dance, I got ants in my pants, I got ants in my socks, I got ants in my throat…So everything I own and all through my bones, I got ants’. It’s fun, and it’s catchy and just manic enough to give a hint of some kind of madness, which of course, is always a plus when you’re a rock band.
Another highlight is Starcrawler’s upcoming single; I Love LA, an ode to their hometown, which has been overly criticised and overly romanticised in equal measures over the years, which has perhaps contributed to some natives being extra protective in their defence of their chaotic, sunny, sprawling city – ’Talking to a friend, he said he’d never ever wanna ever come back again, I call him on the phone, put a quarter in, he can listen to my ringtone’.
Starcrawler has their sound and their look sorted. They are fun and exciting to watch live – a pure shot of adrenaline. There is nothing new to see here, but for anyone who needs a rock and roll injection, Starcrawler may be the jab you need.