April 15th, 2012
Pelican have been plying their particular instrumental furrow for some time now. As furrows go, it’s a fertile if relatively unchanging one, with something for everyone from the beer swilling metal maniac to the socially awkward post-rock aficionado.
Though they touch on many genres, they have an unmistakeable warm, swaggering, chugging sound of their own. There’s a stubborn refusal to stray too far into the darker side of metallic realm or indulge in the drawn-out suspense of more experimental rock. It’s a brave stance, which has the potential to alienate as much as it intrigues.
This divisive quality isn’t in evidence at their show at the Haunt, which is packed with rockers of all ages and both sexes. The band come on to the looping acoustic delicacy of Ataraxia from their new EP, then launch into second track Lathe Biosas. It’s classic Pelican: repetitive chugging heavy riffs that suddenly lurch into warm melodic crescendos, with simple pumping drums and a fist-pumping triumphant vibe.
They continue and get into a groove. Fingers run up and down the bass, people get moving. We sway, we nod. Nobody totally rocks out – you can’t really, the Pelican sound doesn’t quite run to that. What it does offer is solid kicks, a groove here, a killer riff there, and then a ridiculously triumphant borderline emo song like Far From Fields from the album City of Echoes, which I can’t help but grin like a goon to.
Technically speaking, they ain’t amazing. Not for them the precision tooled intricacy of many metal acts, they’re probably too busy supping a beer on their porches for all that sort of thing. They still act the rock though, all waving their guitars about in unison on stage.
It’s been fun, if occasionally meandering. The encore, however, is something else. Somehow the bassist has pressed a switch marked “pulverising bass reverberations for the duration of the song”, and that’s what we get. Shocked out of the warm mid-range roar we’ve been basking in, it’s an invigorating brush with something a little more edgy.
Seems like after all this time Pelican have a few surprises up their sleeves after all.