Taking to the Railway's small, ground-level stage, Howland opened with a song that was a bit of a mission statement; just like Pixies' Cecilia Ann opening up Bossanova, Howland opened their set with a noisy, short instrumental that was a perfect halfway point between the energetic indie of the first Arctics album and the hard-riffing of the Black Keys. From there, the rest of the band's set was made up of songs that featured Rees' distinct vocals, but each one was still full of energetic guitar parts and quick-paced basslines.
Quiet verses that built up to explosive choruses, like in Playing Around and Where'd You Wanna Go? made Howland's sound really refreshing, and the fact that were so damn catchy showed that even at this point in their career they've got the songs to make it.
"We wrote this one today", the frontman Torrin Rees declared before they raced into All I Know - actually one of the highlights of the set. In all my years as someone going to gigs, I've definitely never seen a song written and played live in the same day, but All I Know is, not only just a great song for one written a few hours earlier, but a great song full stop. After that, came the show's climax; closer Waiting For You wrapped the set up with an anthemic chorus and frenzied guitar playing, as well as a bit of a false ending to wrap it all up, drawing the set to a close in style.
Throughout the set, the frontman was just great; whilst belting out Gallagher-esque vocals, he also had a brilliant Madchester swagger in his stage presence - it was halfway between Shaun Ryder and Ian Brown. As well as that, the rest of the band was just as great; the drumming reminded me of Parquet Courts, because it drove the sound on and on, and at times the guitar tones, and guitar riffs were like The Cribs at their thrashiest, garagiest best.
Overall though, Howland's sound was a very refreshing take on indie rock, and it was performed, especially for a first gig, to near perfection. Although they've not got any music up online yet, it's coming, and when it does it'll win them lots of new fans. Howland; definitely one for the future.