Three years ago i couldn’t pick up a magazine or newspaper without reading a near apocalyptic premonition decrying the death of all guitar music. Apparently i should listen to Bro Step and Dub. But like weather and bad haircuts, music is cyclical in nature and what goes around inevitably comes back round again. Bands such as Peace, Swim Deep and Wolf Alice have brought back the 90’s for the 90’s babies, with their noisily catchy and youthfully bittersweet 3 minute wonders.
Tonight, The Garage Islington plays host to three of the more promising pupils of the fret fucking revival. First on the bill are the dark and brooding, psychedelic three piece, The Wytches. Tearing into their short, heavy set, which includes recent singles Beehive Queen and the simply enormous Crying Clown, it is very quickly apparent that this is a band, wiser than it’s years yet proudly celebrating their youth. Front man Kristian Bell is in procession of a genuinely great rock voice and the bands bristling energy and youthful exuberance should be enough to find them a loyal and passionate audience far beyond these sticky walls. Dressed in baggy jumpers, plad shirts and with long unwashed hair this is a band without pretence wearing their hearts as well as their influences on their sleeves.
Within their chord less set of one string rock, it easy to hear the familiar sounds of bands like Tame Impala, The Cramps and even Humbug-esque Arctic Monkeys yet is free from sounding like a contrived jumble of different bands and genres. The Wytches have their own direction and their set rumbles with a confidence and swagger that keeps this paying crowd on their toes and off their feet at the same time. As my fat friend Tim always used to say, “The mosh pit never lies” and on this evidence The Wytches have nothing to worry about.
After all that excitement it was time for a lie down, so thank the lord for Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs. Having been suitably unimpressed by their much anticipated and much hyped debut LP Clarietta, I was hoping to be converted by live display of rip-roaring passion, power and style.
However, what i got was a rather morose collection of uninspired, lifeless, flower-power, faux-psychedelic puff. Adorned in their black turtle neck sweaters (please god no!) the band plodded through their paces, with only title song Clarietta stirring any sort of reaction from this rather static, sub-culturally savvy crowd. “Well, that was rather blasé” reviewed a fellow, unimpressed punter, who was far younger and cooler than I. And to be fair, he was spot on. One couldn’t help keep thinking that Charlie and his Voyeurs would be far more exciting on stage if they actually did take acid, rather than just pretending to be 1960’s psychedelic adventurers. Though, they did have lovely hair…
Here to save the day however, were evening headliners, Splashh. Kicking off their set with traditional opener Washed up, Splashh’s set is reckless 40 minutes of unrelenting, feedback-fuelled, low-fi, scuzzy joy! Much like The Wytches before them this is a band playing to their strengths. Drawing on their influences rather than imitating them, Splashh are almost a mix between 90’s noisettes My Bloody Valentine, Pixies and Sonic Youth and recent psychedelic revivalists Wavves and Deerhunter. Songs like Vacation was even reminiscent of early Nirvana, probably helped by the fact drummer Jacob Moore looks exactly like Chad Channing…
They are refreshingly honest, unpretentious and decked in oversized knitwear, dodgy plaid shirts and faded denim there is a gloriously rebellious and grungy aspect to Splashh, typified beautifully by the night’s stand out highlight, the superb So Young. When singer Sasha Carlson yells the songs opening lyrics “you suck” into his distorted microphone, he is joined joyfully by a screaming, sweaty public, who then proceed to lose their fucking shit.
Despite their breezy, surfer rock haziness this is is a young, angsty and exciting band playing directly to young, angsty and excitable twenty-somethings, jacked up on jager bombs and told that the world’s in the toilet. Splashh are the adrenaline fuelled, light relief and songs like All I need, Feels Like you and Headspins pure pop joy, albeit a very distorted, noisy version of the genre. Set closer Need it could even be mistaken for recent Beach Boy wannabe, indie starlets The Drums and is none the worse for it.
By the time the lights went up I was in an infinitely better mood than I was 45 minutes earlier. Guitar music is in healthy shape, spearheaded by an exciting young class of psychedelic troubadours. If this is what the kids are listening too at sixth form these days then I for one am all for it. Who did ever actually like Dubstep anyway?!