There’s a sense that the crowd gathered in Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms are in on a secret as they begin to huddle expectantly in front of the empty stage. A huge success in their native Australia, San Cisco are still relatively unknown on this side of the pond, but you’d never guess that from the dedicated fans anxiously defending their positions at the barriers.
With tour support F.U.R.S. absconding to play a DJ set in Manchester, it’s down to local boys Alaskan Faction to get the evening started. Since forming at the University of Nottingham in 2012, the Faction have honed their live sound, producing the kind of highly danceable alternative fare that has seen them reach the final of the Uni Music League, as well as earning a coveted BBC Introducing slot at Y Not Festival. Kicking things off with an as-yet-untitled track from their upcoming EP, they power through a collection of earlier material as well as giving the crowd a taste of what to expect from their soon-to-be-released debut. Old favourites like ‘Eyes on the Sky’ and ‘Powerlines’ are delivered with aplomb, the infectious guitar work and powerful bass lines more than capturing the attention of the uninitiated. Frenetic closer ‘Smile Through’ leaves the waiting crowd on a high, more than ready to get their dancing shoes on for the headline act.
San Cisco hit the stage and launch straight into ‘Lyall’, one of the catchiest tracks from their debut album. Having already spent most of this year touring across the US and Europe, their live sound is every bit as well-honed as you would expect. After an upbeat start, the pace slows somewhat for the likes of ‘Hunter’ and ‘Wild Things’, the latter’s chill-wave ambience holding the enraptured audience in sway as Jordi Davieson and Scarlett Stevens’ vocals wash around the room. Older releases like ‘Golden Revolver’ and ‘Reckless’ were also given an airing, with ‘Reckless’ providing a moment of heartfelt respite amongst a generally pacey, up-beat set-list.
However, it is on crowd favourites like super-hit ‘Awkward’ that they really get going, with some truly questionable dance moves making an appearance in front of the stage. New single ‘Beach’ translates brilliantly into live performance, the atmospheric electronics and hazy guitars typical of the more experimental sound that marks the development they showed with their first full-length release. While their performance has an almost shoe-gaze feel to it, the music itself veered from contemplative electronics to unbridled, skittish guitar pop, with the audience lapping up every change in tone. As they launched into final song ‘Fred Astaire,’ Davieson urged the crowd to have one final dance, and boy did they deliver.
At about 45 minutes, the set felt a little short, but no one seemed to mind after the half an hour the band then spent meeting fans and signing CDs. It’s this genuine connection with their listeners, as well as their brand of hugely enjoyable and musically diverse indie-pop, that ensures they won’t be playing this size venue for much longer. Based on their performance tonight, it’s no less than they deserve.