Playing Whelan’s tonight as part of their first ever headline tour, London-based indie pop duo Rews (Shauna Tohill and Collette Williams) have been making waves over the last year with their infectiously catchy brand of punkified pop. Singles like ‘Shake, Shake’, ‘Can You Feel It?’, and ‘Miss You In The Dark’ have dented various levels of public consciousness, while the band have also appeared at several festivals including Green Man and Glastonbury.
Whelan’s upstairs room can be a miserly, unforgiving mistress – particularly on a wet and windy, puddle strewn Wednesday night – but Rews are unperturbed, diving head first into their energetic set. In the live setting, some of their songs are barely recognisable in comparison to the recorded versions. They’re rawer, stripped back, harder, heavier but no less immediate.
The songs are relatively straight forward punchy pop (sure what else could you possibly want?), but the dynamic between both girls on stage adds a unique, extra dimension to each individual song. Before the White Stripes the simple drums/guitar combo was thought to be lacking something, as if without the bass filling in the spaces the music would somehow sound incomplete. Since then bands like We Cut Corners, The Kills and now Rews are showing that that space can become an interesting place for the songs to go. Collette’s metronomic, industrial time keeping provides a solid backbone while Shauna leaps around the stage with all the enthusiasm of a five year old full of espresso on a birthday party bouncing castle as she switches from electric guitar to the occasional visit to the keyboard.
Although it’s a modest crowd the room is sufficiently charmed by Rews’ energetic performance and gracious audience acknowledgment. Energy levels remain high throughout; only a couple of songs drop even as far as mid-tempo. At one point Shauna urges the crowd ‘Rock your flaps off!’ to which they duly oblige, in a fuller room on perhaps a Friday or Saturday night complete ‘deflapitation’ would be inevitable. As it is, flaps seemingly remain attached by the thinnest of sinews.
Given their already impressive arsenal of songs and their uninhibited joy in performing it’s easy to envisage Rews going from strength to strength over the next year or so. They’re the ideal band to discover at a festival doling out high tempo music you can dance to. Write a catchy chorus and get to it as quickly and as many times as you can in three minutes…it’s a flawless formula.