It’s been awhile folks since I did a gig review for VultureHound – it’s been busy for me, and rather sadly for gigs. As a rather broke student with an expensive gig habit, I jumped at the chance to head on down to The Garage in Islington to check out what Heavenly Recordings were showcasing as a part of their 25 years celebrations, swapping the cold of my university’s library for the toasty warmth of a moshpit.
Up first are BRITAIN, hot new dream pop band. They’re a bit of an enigma, but evidently the hip bookers and labels around town think they’re something special, because outside of this gig, they’ve recently played at Rough Trade. A rare girl-boy duo, producing a lush shoegaze soundscape which washes over the admittedly rather sparse crowd I suppose it’s what My Bloody Valentine would have sounded like had they only had one guitar, some pre-produced pedals, a really nice synth and drum machine. That sounds like more of a criticism than I really intend it to be, outside of this being a review of a gig, I do wonder when we’re going to stop pretending that all this neu-shoegaze is actually ‘new’. It’s not as groundbreaking as I would have hoped for at a showcase, but there’s no denying that they have some really lovely tracks. The problem is, a duo who are more interested in their instruments and feet are never going to make for a good show. No matter how much I like the music, it’s BORING to watch. Which the 90s shoegaze bands weren’t. This being said they do sound nice.
Then there’s a bit of a break, not too long though since they’re trying to squeeze in four whole bands. I’m too engrossed in conversation to see the next band enter, but I certainly don’t miss the opening notes. There’s something deeply threatening about the heavy, aggressive thrast of raw energy that Heavenly Recs latest signing, Nots, hurl at the crowd. They are an all girl band from Memphis, USA, and they seem to have a lot to yell about. At first, I’m a little skeptical, they continuous yelling is a tad repetitive, and just recently I’ve seen a wave of girl bands around town pulling this jive of rather poorly. But after a couple of tracks I’m somehow sold. They burn into ‘Virgin Mary’ and I’m captivated, mesmerised by the heavy grinding psychedelic throb. Growing ever fast, the sound swirls around, and the vocals start to sound like some sort of primal, tribal chant. And this bands drumming is so tight, combined with its effortlessly mindless guitar noise and spinning organ swirling. I’m pulled in, then viciously spat back out. They are a band striving to prove they don’t care about you, stomping on your neck, with an oppressive thrall of noise.
Anyone who knows me well, should know that I am a sucker for a good northern accent. I suspect it’s because I lost mine after I moved as a kid from Wales to the South . Anyway, this isn’t relevant, but I know that generally only my mum and friends read this so I may as well get anecdotal. Hooton Tennis Club caught my attention about a year ago, just before they were signed by Heavenly, with the track ‘Jasper’, which may I add sounds FAB live. They’re probably the least heavy act of the night, but they are the first to play to a pretty much packed room. God bless all ye head-nodders, for giving this reviewer a good indication of how well the band are going down (really quite enthusiastically as well). My pal turns to me, totally fresh to the band, and says they’re like Superfood, and I would generally agree, if not they’re better. They’re really really tight though as a band, and it’s really nice to see a band which has two singers (located on the outside) and the bassist without a mic in the middle. My only criticism is the phony american accent, like what’s up with that mannnnnnnnn ?
Then it’s time for the Wytches. I’ll admit, I’ve seen this band perhaps too many times. I know what to expect, and yup it’s all there. Heavy guitar, TICK. Moshing from the lads, TICK. Shouting/Singing, TICK. Generally a totally awesome gig, TICK TICK TICK. They’re showcasing their most latest tracks, which are even more gloomy than the stuff of their debut. And they seem to have found a keyboardist, which actually makes a really er… ‘pleasant’ addition to the band. It is a tad shocking though that they skip some of their biggest hits in favour of their new, and more obscure stuff. Not that I think that affects the general quality of the gig, but really, it is standard practise to actually play the stuff people know. This doesn’t stop the fans though, who are going full blown crazy. It’s a joy to watch, though I decide to stay out of that. I like to think I’m too grown up for all that, but really it’s more I’m knackered. I leave elated, but pretty ready to get into bed after all that excitement.