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Live Review and Photos: Papercuts and Still Corners, June 7, 2011, The Lexington – London, UK

Rockfeedback have been one of London’s best gig promoters for a number of years now, consistently booking London’s best intimate venues with the best in up-and-coming alternative music from both sides of the Atlantic. The variance in sound and energy can be massive, but the enjoyment had by all is consistently high and Tuesday’s show was no exception. The line up of Papercuts, Still Corners and Big Search at The Lexington was a low key affair; it wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t need to be. For an evening’s entertainment after a long day in the city it was a great way to unwind. Amongst the beautiful songs (of which there were many from all three acts) it struck me that this lineup showed just how playing music can bring people together, whether they’re label mates, touring mates or friends from back home.

Big Search, the opener, is the name of Matt Popieluch of Foreign Born’s solo project. To save money, presumably, Big Search has been brought over to support Papercuts on this European jaunt because he can also play keyboards and sing backup in the headline band’s performance. He also used to share an apartment with Papercuts’ Jason Quever, we later found out. Big Search started off with just two guys on stage, playing delicately plucked guitars, with Popieluch’s frail vocal over the top, which emitted a number of ear-catching lyrics.

As the set progressed the band’s sound gradually shifted and got fuller, first with Popieluch’s partner taking over on drums, then the addition of a bassist, and for the final song Jason Quever even came up onstage to take over drums. (I didn’t realise it until later in the evening, but at this point the whole of Papercuts were onstage, just playing different instruments.) And with each passing song, the power of the emotion in Popieluch’s vocals became more pronounced and affecting. It was still understated, but once they’d left the stage a definite connection had been made with the audience.

The second band of the night were the hotly-tipped Still Corners, who are now label mates with Papercuts having just been signed by Sub Pop. Their catalogue has a bag of brooding dreaminess that was brought in full force to The Lexington. Singer Tessa Murray’s floating vocals gently swirled around the room, flitting over the delicate Wurlitzer and gentling wooing you into the world of their back-projected images, which featured plenty of images of forlorn woodland. Each time she hit a heavenly note she’d close her eyes tightly to focus on hitting the purity of it dead on, and the result was devastating.

Atmospheric guitar was added by Leon Dufficy who is something of an understated virtuoso, but he got to show more of his technical prowess on a krautrock-influenced instrumental number that was a sure highlight. Murray continued to charm between songs, speaking as to how she enjoyed playing with Papercuts in the States and was excited to have them back in their home town. However, as soon as Still Corners drifted into another song any thought of the headliners was vanquished from my mind. Such is the way with dreams, they always end too soon, and Still Corners’ set went by in the blink of an eye. Sub Pop can be sure that they’ve got a real prospect on their roster now, and we as observers can hope to see more and longer sets as this band’s ascent is surely just around the corner.

As mentioned earlier, the whole night was somewhat low-key and not much fuss was made when Papercuts took to the stage, but the band immediately changed that by opening with old favourite “Dear Employee.” Following that were “I’ll See You Later I Guess,” from the newest album Fading Parade, and another old favourite “Future Primitive,” which got whoops of delight from fans in the audience, something I hadn’t expected to hear at a Papercuts show. Papercuts is Jason Quever’s solo project essentially, but for Fading Parade he enlisted a band to help record and made a record with more depth than ever before. This stood out in the live show with the new songs being the real highlights, in particular “Marie Says You’ve Changed” and “Do You Really Wanna Know.” And even though Quever may have hit some bum notes vocally, such as on the expansive chorus of “Do What You Will,” it was forgivable because visually it was easy to see that this was more a result of trying to put too much effort into his vocal than being lazy about it.

Touring as Papercuts means constant lineup changes, especially when coming all the way from San Francisco to London. Therefore it was heart warming to see the band just as committed to the performance as Quever himself. Matt Popieluch in particular looked to be putting just as much care and attention into his playing and backup vocals as he had done in his own set as Big Search. Quever seemed humbled too by the performance given by his comrades, speaking of how it was an honour to play with them.

After finishing their main set Papercuts had no obligation to return to the stage, but having seemed to have had so much fun they came back to play one more, super oldie “Judy” from 2004’s Mockingbird. The song was recorded way back when Papercuts was truly a one-man bedroom project, so hearing it augmented to the stage was interesting, and its slow-burning “ba bada ba” chorus heralded a calm conclusion to the evening, which is just what it needed.

Papercuts set list:

Dear Employee
I’ll See You Later I Guess
Future Primitive
John Brown
Wait Till I’m Dead
White Are The Waves
Marie Says You’ve Changed
Poor And Free
Do What You Will
Do You Really Wanna Know


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