Big Deal @ Spanky van Dykes, Nottingham 13.11.13

Big Deal’s chilled out grunge shoegaze musings on longing, lust and young love brought a dreamy taste of the nineties to Spanky Van Dyke’s in Nottingham.

Nov 13th, 2013 at Spanky van Dykes, Nottingham / By Ian Stanley
Big Deal Support came from Nottingham’s Paper Plane Crash; a tidy three piece band with lead Stratocaster held up to the nipples and solo notes that bump above thudded basslines, and tour mates Sisters. Then around tennish, without any faff, Big Deal took to the stage.

In the past, much of what has been written about Big Deal centres on the relationship between singer-songwriters Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe, but the addition of a drummer and bassist to their live show has taken focus away from them and onto their music.

Their critically acclaimed album on transatlantic love and lust, June Gloom, has a broader sound than on their more intimate first album and keeps the warmth of their longing, combined vocal. This is replicated almost perfectly in their live performance.

Big Deal chose to open with two of the album’s finest songs: ‘Swapping Spit’ and ‘Dream Machines.’ In the first of the two, Big Deal have a hit that scratched an itch for the melodies of The Cure and Sonic Youth and in ‘Dream Machines’ a more happy-sleepy vibe than you get from a series of sloth videos.

The live reproduction of the girl-boy singing combination, which is such a vital part of Big Deal’s sound, didn’t lose any of the gloom, or laziness from the album. Underwood and Costelloe’s gently oscillating vocals are tied to the sliding power chords on lines such as, “driving in your car, I wanna be wherever you are” and added to the feeling of longing on Big Deal’s songs. While, staring directly ahead with little change in facial expression, the small figure of Alice Costelloe let her voice do the expressing as she appeared to mull over whatever it was that made her write her parts of the songs.

At times Costelloe’s relaxed vocal was a bit drowned out by the bass or thudding, powerchord guitar, of which there is plenty here. But despite her voice getting a little lost she resisted shouting louder and losing the controlled shoegaze vibe. On ‘Teradactol’ when all instruments stop her voice pops up to show how it has remained consistent with the recording.

The songs are broken up by Kacey Underwood talking with the crowd. He even introduced ‘In Your Car’ by singing the opening line of a song from the Disney version of Robin Hood; the one that references Nottingham. And when he says, “I’m American, most of my knowledge comes from Disney” Costelloe joins in a bubble of laughter from the crowd.

Big Deal finished the set with a final quip from Underwood: “I like this place; it’s weird; I keep thinking my amp is on fire.” It’s the kind of weird that has wood floors and flashy lights to accompany a trip back to the grungey shoegazing nineties. And with the focus firmly on Big Deal’s lustful, longing lyrics and jangling guitar melodies not a thing was noticed about any ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship.