After a period of what felt like forever, London quartet Gengahr returned with their sophomore album, Where Wildness Grows, last month, which was a heavier slice of their already trademark indie, falsetto pop. We said that each track has, “The power to introduce an all new chapter to this band’s incredible sound,” and their live performance showcased an entirely different, more unique sound as a result of this, as well as more than a few from A Dream Outside, in a spectacular performance at The Haunt.
Support for this tour has come from Oxford’s Low Island, who were very impressive. Already, after just a couple of years of the likes of Bastille and The 1975 dominating the charts and taking on huge venues, we’ve seen the next generation follow in their footsteps with powerful pop harmonies. Low Island are a band that are certainly influenced by both groups, Bastille in particular, as their brand of dreamy, euphoric pop had all the stampings of the pop behemoths. ‘That Kind of Love’ especially, with its shakers, cowbells and bombastic synths, created an incredibly addictive and wholesome indie-pop sound.
When a band reaches its second album tour, it’s often difficult compiling a set list that will please the original fans, as well as promote the album. This is something Gengahr achieved exceptionally well by essentially criss-crossing between A Dream Outside and Where Wildness Grows for the opening part of the set. Opener ‘Is This How You Love’, which was a slow introduction to the band but a perfect exhibition of the talent on display either side of frontman Felix Bushe, was the first introduction to their latest record, but throughout the night the band is an impressively tight live prospect. Both bassist Hugh Schulte and lead guitarist John Victor create incredible guitar lines that serve as relentless earworms throughout the night.
Fan favourite and early single ‘Heroine’ is next and, of course, creates a massive cheer from the audience, while the following ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ and ‘Bathed in Light’ create the exact atmosphere for the audience to fully invest in this performance. Indeed, it’s with Where Wildness Grows opener, ‘Before Sunrise’, where the predominantly young crowd start to jump and mosh around with intense enthusiasm. You can’t blame them really, with its churning, baroque guitar line from John Victor, it’s an infectious and memorable hook worthy of throwing yourself around to. Importantly for the band, the middle set, made up of Where Wildness Grows tracks ‘Pull Over (Now)’ and the album’s eponymous single along with lesser known A Dream Outside tracks ‘Embers’ and ‘Dark Star’, didn’t stop the crowd’s devotion and eagerness to dance and sing-along.
It’s the middle of the set where Gengahr really start to impress, though, with the incredibly impressive and heavier one-two of ‘Mallory’ and ‘Burning Air’. These two singles acted as the perfect showcase to this new side of Gengahr with their fuzzy distortion and monstrous riffs recalling ‘90s-indebted thrash. Their ability to change momentum with the flick of a switch will never not be impressive in the live sphere, and it’s clear to see how Gengahr have won so many people over by this point.
It was a set that thrusted forwards and upwards until its final note. The fan favourite duo ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ and ‘She’s a Witch’ once again took us back to the low-key atmospheric ambience of the first record, as well as Felix Bushe’s devilish lyrical content. On this performance, Gengahr have done what every band aim to with their second record: to grow and mature into a better, more developed band and their live show is all the more exciting and, frankly, brilliant for it.