TTNG / Mylets / Emma Ruth Rundle - live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

TTNG / Mylets / Emma Ruth Rundle

live in Cambridge (2014)

live show

This was essentially an unintentional Sargent House fall 2014 tour, with great UK math rockers TTNG (formerly This Town Needs Guns) headlining, support from the solo Mylets, and another solo act with more of a singer-songwriter vibe, Emma Ruth Rundle (also of Red Sparowes, Marriages, and Nocturnes) opening it up.

Rundle plays haunting, heartbreaking, ambient folk that sort of resembles the more straightforward Chelsea Wolfe stuff meshed with the Cranberries' Irish howling and Daughter's intimately painful, reverb-y atmospheres. It's good stuff and what largely makes up her recent full-length, Some Heavy Ocean, which she seemed to draw strictly from for her set. She played by herself with just an electric guitar and a touch of pre-recorded backing tracks to add some noise and ambience. Though she seemed a little timid on stage, it didn't prevent her from howling out the touching moments of "Shadows of My Name", with ruminative closer "Living with the Black Dog" a whispered, shadow to finish the set to a warm reception.

Mylets was less my thing. A one-man project from a Henry Kohen, he calls it "loop rock": guitar fiddling and some pedals and electronics and yes, definitely a lot of loops. There was something about his off-key vocals that didn't jibe with me, even if much of the crowd seemed into it. I will say that if I wasn't handed a genre tag I'd have no idea how to classify what he does, which could be a compliment. The last song was a new jam that was almost like an emo revival Nine Inch Nails. Check it out if you think that sounds tempting.

I'd actually sort of forgot how good TTNG is, particularly 2008's Animals, until the trio swooped in with the complex finger-tapping and earnest vocals of opener "Gibbon". They were super tight and played through a set that had a nice mix of songs off their two most recent full-lengths, plus a great track from their self-titled release. Besides "Gibbon", I remember them playing 12 songs total: in rough order, "Cat Fantastic", "Pig", "In the Branches of Yggdrasil", "Want to Come Back to My Room and Listen to Some Belle and Sebastian?", "If I Sit Still, Maybe I'll Get Out of Here", plus some others and legitimately encored with "Chinchilla", as the crowd wouldn't let them off without one, even though it was after midnight at that point. The band was super charming and interactive with the audience, using the time in between every song to respond to all the random shouts individually and develop recurring inside gags while they tuned. I was curious to see how TTNG singer Henry Tremain would replicate the yearning emotion former frontman Stuart Smith had on that earlier stuff, since Tremain is much less tense and more upbeat on the band's only album with him, last year's; thankfully, he nailed that feeling Smith conveyed on those older albums. The set felt pretty long and there were frequent pauses, but it was definitely a quite enjoyable experience for the ~150 people in attendance.