Canadian post-punks Preoccupations made an unexpected stop on their European tour. Following the release of acclaimed fourth album ‘Arrangements’, they brought their trademark frenzied dissonance to the limited capacity of The New Adelphi Club in Hull.

Their breakout album under their original name of Viet Cong thrust them into prominence in the alternative scene. Now 8 years later they stand alongside contemporaries Protomartyr, Shame and Black Country, New Road at the forefront of modern post-punk, and they continue to expand the boundaries of the genre.  

Lumer and Pretty Happy

First up in support were Hull four-piece Lumer. They experienced a meteoric rise through the local scene which included an appearance at Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2017. They have since built on this with their celebrated ‘Disappearing Act’ EP. As they ripped through recent single ‘English Dream’, it’s easy to see why it was recently championed by BBC Steve Lamacq. With potent lyrics and stabbing guitars, it’s moody northern disillusionment at its finest.

Up next were Cork art-punks Pretty Happy. They combined caustic punk-rock power chord shredding with avant-garde influenced performance art. ‘Salami’ took the crowd by surprise, just as it did with the Irish DIY scene. Arann Blake’s abstract spoken verses were ripped away by Abbey Blake’s shrieking chorus. They then got the crowd moving with Pixies influenced guitars on ‘Boots’.

After a winning set, they closed out with a wall of sound. Included was Blake shrieking through an amplified a rotary dial telephone. Probably one of the most unique and memorable support acts the Adelphi is likely to have seen in its storied history


Afterwards, Preoccupations then arrived onto the tiny Adelphi stage. There was barely time to wonder how they would be able to re-create their vast soundscapes in such a small setting. The stabbing opening riff and drums to ‘Fix Bayonets!’ filled the room. Singer Matt Flegal’s vocals thenpunched through the noise in the chorus.

They often verge more to the noisier end of the genre. However next was the jangly guitar riff and bouncing bass of ‘Ricochet’. It was impossible not to think of Joy Division as Preoccupations presented their more accessible side.

Subsequently, the noisy soundscapes returned with ‘Death of Melody’ and ‘Recalibrate’. The band demonstrably proved themselves to be at home in swirling harmonic chaos over hammering drums.

Those with a keen ear were able to figure out that the setlist was in fact the track list of ‘Arrangements’. Flegal then confirmed this after the final chords of ‘Tearing up the grass’ rang out.

Viet Cong

With their latest material out of the way, the loudest cheer of the night erupted for ‘Continental Shelf’. They have been around the block in their 11 years as a band. However, this was their first time in Hull which meant long-time fans were excited for more tracks from ‘Viet Cong’.

Loyal fans and new fans alike were thrust into motion by ‘Silhouettes’. The classic track left the room gasping for air with its restless drumming and soaring guitars. Following this was another debut album favourite, ‘Bunker Buster’. With influences from Slint, it typifies the sound that captivated and excited critics and brought them international acclaim in the mid-2010s.

March of Progress

Later there was a trip to their middle two albums with the 11 minute epic ‘Memory’ before the lighter ‘Disarray’. Emphatically following was the finale. This was the 6 minute epic ‘March of Progress’. The repetitive tribal drum intro brought a brief respite for the crowd from the high energy unpredictability before a frenetic major key shift into a part-mesmeric part-dancing end to the song and their set. 

After an extensive North America tour and with subsequent European dates to come at venues more befitting their stature, this was a rare opportunity to witness a band of this magnitude at the peak of their powers in such an intimate setting.

Sam Campbell
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