Live Review: Frankie Cosmos

By Tony Inglis
La Belle Angele, Edinburgh, 3 August 2017

“Talk amongst yourselves” says Frankie Cosmos frontwoman Greta Kline bashfully when, a few seconds into set opener ‘On the Lips’, her guitar cuts out.

Those first few seconds sounded so sweet and joyful, the crowd can’t quite follow her request as instructed, instead waiting with baited breath until the technical gremlins are sorted out.

Her and the band kick back into it, but it becomes clear things haven’t been rectified to the perfection of the sound check only a few hours before and so, in the most rock and roll thing you’re likely to witness at a Frankie Cosmos show, Kline holds her guitar aloft – as if to say “I don’t even need this” – and sings out the rest of the track.

It seems like a stop start opening but actually, in this small moment, it encompasses everything that’s so likeable about Kline’s project and gets the gig off to a surprisingly raucous start.

This isn’t because Frankie Cosmos gigs can’t be loud and fun – they always are – but because it betrays the rather unfair portrayal of Kline in some music media as diminutive and quiet. Onstage, ably backed by her band, she is expressive, and the songs are even bouncier than on record, something that perhaps belies their personal tone. Tonight is no different.

La Belle Angele, a mid-sized club venue just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is packed but not full (the Edinburgh Fringe has just got underway), but there are no festival stragglers who’ve just popped in to see what’s going on. Everyone in here is here for Frankie Cosmos, from the group pinned tight at the front bopping and moshing to every tune, to those standing further back gazing reverently as the group speed through song after song.

Frankie Cosmos seems to deal in snapshots, and this is true – much of the set is made up of cuts from 2016 album Next Thing, many of which are below two minutes in length – but they are not flimsy. Kline’s snapshots are deeply animated and intensely personal, with extremely memorable lines and a feeling sometimes that you are being let in on a secret.

In a live setting, the songs retain that charm, but are arguably even more real and fleshed out as improvisational flourishes from Kline’s guitar, or the emphasis on the vocal harmonies and interplay between her and fellow bandmate Lauren Martin, turn songs like ‘Outside with the Cuties’ into sweeping ballads.

Since the New York band last came to Scotland, nearly a year ago at Glasgow’s Stereo, Kline has grown into her role as a frontwoman. Frankie Cosmos were impressive then, but they are triumphant here. She owns the stage, and marches through some of her best songs – ‘Fool’, ‘Sinister’, ‘I’m 20’, ‘Buses Splash with Rain’ and ‘If I Had A Dog’, amongst many others. It’s very easy to forget Kline is only 23. It’s even easier to forget that she is incomparably prolific, with over 50 albums online credited to her under one name or another.

The highlight comes second to last as Kline announces, after a brief discussion with her bandmates, that they will play a new song. It goes down a treat and it’s fascinating to wonder where she will take Frankie Cosmos next. She is still developing as a songwriter and a performer, and rapidly at that, despite already being so accomplished, and she speaks so intelligently about the music she loves and which inspires her, that she really could go in any direction while still keeping that distinctive voice that seems much copied, though unmatched, in modern indie rock music.

Keep your eyes peeled for our chat with Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline, coming to the site soon!

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