“It’s in their blood” one fan told me, as Calling Curtis took to the stage in Brighton’s nascent venue Patterns last Friday. Jacob Bugden, Jazz Pope, Fin Abbo and Sam Abbo comprise the band, and it’s true, they all have strong musical backgrounds. The Abbo brothers experienced moderate success in their previous indie outfit Don Komodo, and keyboardist Jazz Pope is the son of veteran music video director Tim Pope. After hearing Calling Curtis play, it’s clear that creativity runs in the family.
The support of the night came from Episodes, who brought a funky Kasabian vibe to the proceedings, and from This Party, whose particular style of indie pop kickstarted the night and got the crowd pumped. The main act though, who most of the crowd were there to see, was Calling Curtis.
A brooding and distorted introduction sets the tone for their set, before they launch into a full-blooded electric blues-rock performance. A refreshing blend of both classical blues rock and modern alt-rock, Calling Curtis serve a tonic of heavy set guitar and bass with a dash of clean, organ based synth vibes, and the crowd love it. You can still hear elements of Don Komodo’s Arctic Monkey’s influenced sound in the mix, but Calling Curtis are the Raichu to Don Komodo’s Pikachu – evolved, more electric, and rarer.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to describe Calling Curtis as a synth-centric band – The crowd loved the organ hype, and Jazz Pope almost seemed like the conductor of the band at points. It was certainly the loudest instrument on the night, although this may be down to the sound engineer rather than a conscious musical decision. Making the synth the centrepiece is what differentiates them from other, less distinctive contemporaries, and it works. They threw their sweat rag into the audience, and multiple members of the crowd used it before giving it back, in what I took to be a sign of true fan devotion.
It seems clear that different songs are written by different members, judging by their relative comfort levels during playing. What is also clear is that Calling Curtis are able to play a wide variety of genres, and play them well – my favourite of the night was their ska track, but they also touched on metal, blues, pop-punk, alt, and indie rock throughout their set. This is a great asset, as the band can draw from a variety of sounds and spice up their performances, however in the long run Calling Curtis will have to choose which style they prefer.
Calling Curtis are a band coming of age, and at some point they will need to decide on a direction. Some styles they are good at, and some they are better at, but the fact they have a luxury of choice speaks volumes about their musical ability.
• Catch calling Curtis in London at 229 The Venue on the 18th July, or back in Brighton at the Haunt on 19th August.