With the incredible combo of silver lamé costumes, psychedelic trippy projection backdrop, and fuzzed up to the max music, it’s hard to tell to what extent Fever the Ghost are serious or some insane parody of the whole genre of US psychedelia. My problem is, I really wanted to like them live. Recorded they have produced fabulous off kilter near-pop, but live the sound is overwhelming. Wondering whether it’s just because I was pretty close to the stage I moved to the back of the room, but nope, still a noisy mess. There’s perhaps just a little bit too much going on, and all those wonderfully quirky odd blips seem to get lost in a big mess of sound. The crowd is pretty unreceptive too – considering the music isn’t exactly undancy, they are totally static, minimum nodding and foot tapping all around. I know it’s London but this is a crowd that feels particularly like they don’t want to be there. I wonder if the crowd had been more into it whether it would have seemed a epic as the band seem to want it to be. Or maybe you need to be on the right substances. Regardless of this debate, the band pale in comparison to the two headline acts which follow.
Hawkline pulls a u-turn in terms of the stage and equipment set up of the previous act. Whereas Fever the Ghost had gone all out in costume and crazy complicated snazzy equipment, the stage is now a basic three-piece, with even minimal pedals. Again, I’m not entirely sure about the balance of the sound (I’m starting to think it might be the venue, sorry Fever The Ghost). Highlights of the set include the singles Spooky Dog, and Moons In My Mirror, in which you catch the crowd bopping away politely, and clapping rather enthusiastically afterwards. He gives a wonderful interlude in which he reveals his plan to slowly replace himself in the band, and an awkward introduction to latest release ‘It’s a Drag’, which serve to make the music endearing. I think the most wonderful thing about H. Hawkline is that he abrasively refuses to sound quite like anyone else. He’s an artist that’s not there to be liked, he’s there to make the music and sound that he wants to make: sod it if no one listens, he’s having fun. To top this off, he delivers all this with a sharply self-deprecating lilt, which charms you into enjoying the set, regardless of what you may think of the music.
Last up in this Heavenly Records night at the Olso is Gwenno. She shimmers on stage and starts straight up into the electronic daydream . If you haven’t had the chance to listen, she’s an electro psych feminist, singing angry songs in welsh to totally danceable tunes. A cunning method to get infiltrate your mind? I don’t know, I think it’s awesome frankly, it’s refreshing to listen to a woman who is totally unabashed and unapologetic about her views and ideals, whilst also admitting that the music she has created it the total reverse. Unless you are lucky enough to speak Welsh, or have the context, tracks like Chwyldro (meaning revolution), or Patriarchaeth (Patriarchy), are light pop tunes. Live, they shockingly sound as good recorded, I’m blown away and captivated by the mastery it must take to recreate those complex synth beats and harmonies. She plays a combination of tracks solo and with a band. Whilst with the band, the beat hums through your body, pulsating and vibrating. Without, Gwenno is simply captivating, casting some sort of spell with her complete wizardly of synth and manipulation. She closes with Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki apparently the song we are suppose to dance to during the apocalypse. And honestly, if it is, I’m not sure I’d mind.