Gengahr – Bleach – 25th March 2015

BrightonsFinest have been looking forward to seeing Gengahr for quite a while now. Residing from North London, this indie band of four are at the beginning of what I’m sure is going to be a trip to the top. Having already supported a huge stadium tour for Alt-J as well as The Maccabees, and only had the one release, She’s A Witch EP on Transgressive/[PIAS] Records, they are starting to show the world what they are capable of, using their harmonious vocals and light sounding guitars as ammunition. After an extremely successful showcase at SXSW, they came back to play a two date tour, and show us Brightonians their craft at Bleach.
Sulky Boy started the night, bringing us their romantic dreamy pop sounds. The four piece are one of the newest bands to come from Brighton’s current population of thriving musicians. Their slacker pop songs sounds like early Beatles, with more distortion and a grungy off key voice. The easy going feel of their sound would be perfect for when you are stuck in a gloomy and sombre mood on a glisteningly sunny day. Sulky Boy however, do seem to lack any sort of originality. The Mac DeMarco sound you feel they are going for fails to have any hook or excitement to keep your attention, and it sways into 90s American high-school band territory along the way. This was confusing, and I’m not entirely sure where they wanted their sound to sit with the audience.
Brighton favourites Our Girl, held the penultimate slot. Last time I saw them (doing a memorable support slot for the Hinds at The Joker) I was astounded by their powerful and captivating set. I think this time round the sound wasn’t working in their favour. Leaky cymbals blanketed Soph Nathan’s voice, rendering it barely audible, and the infectious heavy rock sound was lost in the excessive noise. The dark lyrics combined with intricate minor guitar sounds, are something that is extremely appealing to the listener, but there needs to something other than gracious calm moments and raucous heavy jams. I am a massive fan of Soph and Our Girl’s music, but I do feel they need to take more risks to take them to the top level they are definitely capable of. Their proven recipe works well, but for me it is on the verge of becoming samey – do the world’s greatest artists stay with the same formula that has already worked for them? There is no doubt that Soph is a special talent, but I have an overriding feeling that it could be better – perhaps this was just a poor show.
Gengahr’s quartet came on stage and went into what I would say was their worst song of the set. I don’t know if they were fighting through some jetlag, or if it was just first song jitters, but it definitely did not compare to the rest of the set with the second track being outstanding [and surpassing my already high expectation for them]. My initial opinion of their sound was; Feeder with the similar high pitched tone of Wild Beats’s Hayden Thorpe voice – I can safely say they are far better than that [sounded]. The light and warm nature of the bands guitar chords are tremendously pleasant when paired with Felix Bush’s strong yet delicate falsetto vocals. Each track had its own uniqueness and interesting ideas kept coming through, mainly due to the amount of freedom each member of Gengahr has to express what they think is musically right in that moment. ‘She’s A Witch’ was an obvious favourite being it had the most radio play, and it did get the biggest reaction from the crowd, although there were so many equally good (if not better) tracks performed that will be revealed once when they release their debut album.
The playfulness of the performance was a delight, and their very British indie pop excels in unbelievable quality. In my eyes, it almost puts them in a similar situation to very early Radiohead, where you know they will go on to progress their sound in an impressive and superior way. We can only watch this space.
Iain Lauder