This was Shuf's first real introduction to Guards. They'd been a name circulating around the ‘ones to watch’ quarters since their formation in 2010 but it was this opening slot for MGMT that really proved why the New York City three piece are worth making noise about.
Their crescendo-heavy dream pop might sound more like the product of Cali but their infectious melodies and unshakeable handle of their instruments was the unmistakeable sound of the east coast. The hooks that are laden with such fuzzy instrumentation are irresistible. They manage to get the crowd hanging on every last crash and create an atmosphere that made us genuinely excited for what this band could achieve. Lead vocalist Richie Follin is the brother of Cults’ leading lady Madeline which has caused a hefty portion of the blogosphere to trash Guards as nothing but a characterless sibling. That’s so, so, easy. Guards demonstrate a handle on indie rock that is reaching the highest heights without one iota of pretentiousness or lack of accessibility. I’m aware we’re going on a tangent here, but if this live show told us anything it’s that Guards aren’t a by-product of Cults and making them out as such is immeasurably lazy. The songwriting on cuts like ‘Coming True’ and other tracks from recent debut full length ‘In Guards We Trust’ are ambitious but melody-driven. The kind of songs that could sell a million records but still be played on Jarvis Cocker’s radio show. On the stage, Follin spoke in the kind of hypnotized and slightly well-oiled way you’d expect of a front man. Their final track ended in a soaring crescendo which shook the room and was little short of being completely mesmeric. The musicianship and the relationship between the band mates is at a rare level where this kind of music just happens and seems effortless. Guards are a true testament to the school of thought that live shows and song writing can be the perfect support to one another.
I know we’ve said this already, but Guards really shouldn’t be compared to Cults. What Shuf witnessed at the Apollo was a band who are almost 4 years in to their existence and have refined their live show, perfected their songwriting and have made absolutely no effort to slow down. It’s a remarkable thing when you see a lot of shows a lot of the time but before the headline act had even come on, we had the overwhelming urge to tell anyone who comes on to this site to go and listen to Guards.
Words: Duncan Harrison