Conner Youngblood – Green Store Store, Brighton – 27th September 2018

Photo by Dan Whitehouse

It’s been a few months since I first saw experimental and alternative singer Conner Youngblood. He last played Brighton as part of The Great Escape festival back in May at The Prince Albert and happened to be the last artist I saw over TGE weekend. His abstract, worldly sound was exactly what I needed at the time, winding down from a busy weekend, his vocals and instrumentation were a soothing way to finish things. This time he performed at the Green Door Store, a similarly intimate venue with plenty of character, definitely fitting for Youngblood’s show.

Support came from Good Guy Clarence, who I last saw perform in support of Holy Bouncer, back in January at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. As with Youngblood, GGC emit a somber but soothing vibe combining haunting vocals with mellow instrumentation. The rawness of their performance really shows off their instrumentation and what better place to see them than the Green Door Store.

After a short intermission, Youngblood took to the stage as the crowd listened intently. He stood dressed in a casual pair of trousers and a jumper, his impressive pointy dreads twisted in every direction. His appearance is almost as interesting as his music and his work serves almost as an extension of himself. His performance was calming from start to finish and, while I felt his previous performance at The Prince Albert was a great introduction to the man himself, this show felt more personally revealing, his personality connecting with the many who had gathered to watch him.

The most fascinating part of Youngblood’s music is the unpredictability of it, the array of vocal effects, smooth instrumentation and his sense of vulnerability all play a part in making him such an interesting performer. It’s clear from his body language and speech in-between songs that Youngblood doesn’t quite fathom how good he is, or at least possess the confidence to express it. After performing one track he stated how he’d “Only really had one breakup” but still sings about it. He’s clearly an emotional individual that manages to find solace in his music.

He seems to find a lot of inspiration in places and experiences rather than people, for the most part, taking a moment to ask “are there any birdwatchers in here tonight?” His music comes from an interpretation of the beauty and darkness in the world and how he interprets it. As his set came to a close, Youngblood chose to drop his backing musicians and perform two songs acoustically, one of his own, along with a cover of a Willie Nelson track.

It was good to see Youngblood back in Brighton, the Green Door Store definitely serving as a more characteristic and suitable venue for his personality. It was a joy to see him attracting such interest at one of his headlining shows. His sound is a complete break away from the majority of the Brighton music scene, but it’s clear there’s a vast selection of genres that have taken influence on his music, as his production and vocal experimentation suggests.

Dan Whitehouse