With ears ringing from a day of incredible music and heads throbbing from an evening of dancing to Jen Long’s always amazing silent-disco DJ set, Simon Tyers and Lauren Down report back on the highlights from day 3 of Sŵn Festival.
Aluna Francis and George Reid’s fresh take on R&B exudes modernity itself; their slick beats, funky basslines, sweet vocals and post-dubstep beats are as perfect live as they are on record. Aluna’s effortlessly stunning stage presence, combined with George’s more organic, raw production mean that the most buzzed performance of the afternoon does not disappoint. And even though they only play half an hour out of their allocated hour slot, they nail every effort from crowd pleaser ‘You Know You Like it’ through their expertly chosen cover of Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It’ to the swirling, swelling, hyptonising finale of recent number ‘Your Drums, Your Love.’ [LD]
Strangely under-attended for a buzz band on the Saturday night at a city-wide festival, PINS look the part – all black band uniform and singer Faith Holgate’s occasional thousand yard stare – and they sound it too. Their creations may start with Velvet Underground‘s rhythmic drone via Siouxsie quasi-goth darkness but those influences are subsumed into a centrifugal force of swirling, surging guitar that alternates between chiming precision and fuzzy noise. This is all allied to Anna Donigan’s Kim Deal-esque bass lines, unaffected by her managing to give herself cramp through a bout of tambourine shaking, and Holgate’s strident delivery. Cheap comparisons to the American fuzzy female set (Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls) will be inevitable, but PINS are more like their mischievous cousins. [ST]
As Islet emerge through the packed out Chapter Studio any thought that you know roughly what’s going to happen here through experience and word of mouth – lots of drumming, Mark and Alex in the crowd – evaporates. Of course all of the above happens, but it’s equally notable how well drilled this apparent chaos is. Songs change gear, break down, stop and start exactly on cue, proving that behind the manaical rushing around the stage instrument swapping and thrashing to barely sane percussive breakdowns while generally seeming as if everyone has been wired directly to the mains, lies a lot of rehearsing. The songs have been pushed to their internal limits, making the band able to switch from tribal walls of sound to a single focal point without any apparent signalling. Behind the near hour of kinetic intensity lies an absolute focus on musical obtuseness, making their approach almost entirely unreplicatable. [ST]
O’Neill’s – two city centre branches of the chain are hosting events, which confused the band to name one – is barely a third full at stage time, which allows This Many Boyfriends frontman Richard Brooke to set up his mike in front of the stage and spend parts of the set prowling around right in front of the audience, bantering between songs with bandmates and generally exuding energetic enthusiasm. Their scrappily spiky indiepop growls like jet engines, built on pinpoint riffs and solos that always seem to teeter on the edge of collapse, atop which Brooke’s Jarman-esque flat Leodensian croon deal with idiosyncratic matter and affairs of the heart as equals. A roaring closing ‘That’s What Diaries Are For’ sees Brooke charge through the now larger crowd to the back wall before the song collapses in a hail of feedback. Job done. [ST]
The focus, drive and vision behind this enigmatic Manchester group is evident in every note, every drum pad thud, every drawn out synth haze and every flickering projection. Tonight appearing as a three piece fronted by a female singer and bassist, and backed by two men (one of whom is Kelly, the band’s spokesperson who we caught up with back in July) on keys, synths and percussion they create effortlessly intoxicating, cascading post-rave numbers brimming with rasping beats and auto-tuned vocals. “Euphoric heartbreak” is the phrase our interviewer used and well, it seems pretty apt: the trio’s efforts are like a much needed dose of serotonin while remaining forlorn in their plaintive, droning nature. [LD]