Following a complicated year of trials and testimonies against their record label that launched them into an abyss of isolation, The Hunna are throttling themselves at full force back into live performances and giving it all they’ve got with the prospect of an unforeseen future playing on their minds that results in an overwhelmingly electrifying and unforgettable night.
Upon arrival, I was bombarded with the hordes of fans stacked in their thousands outside the 02 Institute. I think that immediately gave a sense of higher status, like “oh wow this band is like REALLY popular, I bet they’ll be good” and for any newcomers, I imagine it would immediately tickle your excitements for the foreseeable night.
The first to triumph the stage was Retro Video Club, kicking off with their latest anthem ‘Famous.’ On the surface, the Edinburgh group don’t visually fit your typical idea of what a band “should” look like, masking their ruthless talents under their bubbly wit and ‘average joe’ look that leaves room for a gob-smacking shock when they hit the stage with almighty power. Their catchy rock anthems were laced with honest lyrics about lost love and hardships that made them easy to relate to, and for those oncoming hordes of fans, their set was easy to digest but always left that lust for more.
Following next was the Motley Crue of modern pop-rock, Barn Courtney, with less of the drugs and violence but still carrying that audacious flare of charisma with his personality. The solo act and his live band flaunted across the stage like the rabble-rousers they were so fit to be, bouncing around the room and beating all the energy they could out of the crowd at any given moment like a metaphorical dead horse.
Barn Courtney was a unique standout, encompassing everything you loved about crazy 70’s rock with a modern pop-rock twist that incorporated new elements like acoustic guitars in typically fast-sped rock n’ roll tracks that offered a mellow crutch for the thought-provoking lyrics to pave through. Both visually and mentally Barn Courtney is living in his own rock and roll world, bringing bubble blowers on the stage and crowd surfing during his set; this is his world and we’re just living the high life with him.
“We had people representing us that didn’t treat our fans good enough, chant this one loud enough for them to hear” bellowed a sweat-ridden vocalist Ryan (Tino) Potter, engulfed in a sea of twinkling phone lights and gasping for air. As The Hunna hit the stage, flooding the room with bright lights and sending the crowd into pandemonium, they seized the opportunity to immediately clear up any delusions of events over the past few months. With apologies and promises of change, the atmosphere shifted to one that had deeply rooted passion and emotional connection, fans hollered back to show their support and as mentioned- cue the pandemonium.
Their crowd rapport was unlike any other. With the past year and all its trouble there was a genuine sense of gratitude and humility from the band who didn’t have a falsified pretense like every other generic indie band with its massive egos and cocky attitudes, Tino took every opportunity he could to thank the audience for their support and remind them that this was a safe space for their own enjoyment.
Singing with the passion of a wounded soul that’s seen many faces, Tino grappled the crowd with his emotive behavior that further amplified the poignant lyrics weaved throughout tracks like ‘Lover’, ‘Y.D.W.I.W.M.’ and ‘Brother.’ Working as one bonafide unit, the band fed from each other’s energy and recuperated it back into the audience which only enticed further insanity from the crowd. The setlist was a selective pick of their newer hits, like ‘Babe Can I Call?’ taken from their 2018 LP Dare and a brand new track ‘I Get High To Forget’ that’s just beginning to see the light of day. But it didn’t shy away from underrated tracks and old throwbacks either, such as ‘Bonfire’ ‘She’s Casual’ and ‘Bad For You.’
What truly upheld the night, and came at almost a detriment, was the sheer insanity of the audience. Moshpits, crowd surfers and people practically moshing on top of one another, there wasn’t a moment to grasp what was going on before you were dragged back into the riptide of chaos which was both an adrenaline rush but at times became a crutch for the band. Every show comes with its highs and lows, and the lows for this show were brief but felt most heavily. It was felt most with the slow, mellow songs that just dragged out and relied on crowd engagement alone where I would have liked to see more from the band’s side in theatrics and really trying to grapple them. In my mind, I just thought “get in their faces and sing the lyrics they’ve been dying to hear back to them but even louder,” you know?
In previous years the Hertfordshire four-piece have gotten slack for having an ‘obnoxious’ fanbase that heavily leans on lad culture which doesn’t always translate so great live and whilst I would pretend it wasn’t that bad my train of thought would be washed out by “lads” chants and “cheeky bants”. But in a way I have admiration for bands who can gather a cult following of fans who feel so dedicated they literally want to scream about it every five seconds. From every hoot and holler to the moshpits and beer cups flying around, a band isn’t half of what they are without a supportive fanbase who camps out 12 hours before your show just to see you first.
The Hunna made a redeemable return to their live performances despite their previous dramas and overall it was a great night.
All photographs : Sam Robinson