Haus – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar – 13th February 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

Forget Harry Kane, Haus are the best thing to come out of Tottenham in a very long time. Like indie-meets-grime-meets-dub, they’re a dynamic band that make music you can really dance to. Their gig at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar brought that rave atmosphere and then some, putting the audience in a delectable mood, as they danced to every song and sung along to each and every word. With art-pop vocals, along with sensational synth beats, they’re a very impressive live unit that looked already too big for the dingy and dark Sticky Mike’s.

Support on the night came from Para Fiction, who were playing their second ever gig. Described as “Punk-hip-hop”, they’re a guitar-based band that expertly combine the jangly math-rock of the likes of Foals and Bombay Bicycle Club, with the boisterous vocals akin to Benny Mails and Rejjie Snow. Considering they’re so early on in their live careers, their set was a ridiculously impressive set filled with heaps of fun and moments of madness.

Liverpool band Paris Youth Foundation changed the mood completely with their more chart-based indie-pop music in the vein of Bastille or The 1975. With the likes of ‘Losing Your Love’ and ‘London’, it’s instantly clear that they’re built on euphoric pop choruses, with the verses providing the build-up to the main event. ‘Losing Your Love’ in particular is an array of howling guitars, swathed with the sort of indie-electronica that harks back to the likes of Friendly Fires from the peak of indie-rock at the end of the 00s. At times it’s a little too nostalgic, seldom offering much in the way of contemporary ideas but, when everything clicks into place, Paris Youth Foundation have that joyous charisma that evokes the big indie-pop songs.

When Haus made for the stage, there was a sizeable amount of anticipation that a party was about to kick-off. In a lot of ways, that’s exactly what it was. With Sticky Mike’s dark interior, along with the intense smell of alcohol, Haus brought the carnival vibes that felt much more like a club night than it did a live gig. In the best way possible, Haus sound sonically dancey, with a dubstep sensation driving all the way through the venue. Everyone in the packed out venue was, at their best, bouncing up and down and, at their worst, at least stomping their feet.

Instantaneously, what is clear is just how impressive a frontman Ashley Mulimba is. From his on stage talking, to his ace voice, to his unstoppable movement, he seems to have the whole package. With ‘Two Minds’, one of Haus’ most melodic songs, Mulimba opens with “Who’s stuck in two minds, Brighton?” to rapturous applause, and in many ways, it is this song that is the perfect example of his talents. His voice is powerful, cutting through the faint harmonies behind him, as the band upsurge to a dulcet chorus with intricate guitar lines. It’s Mulimba’s incisive tones and rebellious conviction that escalates to most impressive heights here, though.

Indeed, it’s the middle section of their set where they show they’ve got indie hooks in abundance. With singles ‘Say What You Say’, which is a celebration of their native London life, to their latest offering ‘Shameless’ and hook-laden ‘Gave You All’, it feels like a set from a band that have at least a couple of albums in their back-catalogue. ‘Shameless’, which has been produced by Alex Robertshaw of Everything Everything, is a clever song, with a knowing nod about anxiety in the modern world. Cleverly, it’s also a terrific pop song that slices math-rock components with a heavy dose of exciting synths, for an intelligent touch of superb indie-rock. Here is where they show they have more in common with the art-rock of alt-J, rather than the indie-pop of a more mainstream band, like The Wombats.

Ultimately, this was a very thrilling introduction to the world of a Haus live show and, like all great gigs should be, was a celebration of their music, style and immense world-building. When HAUS come back to Brighton, it’s almost certainly going to be in a venue that is at least five times bigger than Sticky Mike’s basement, and deservingly so.

Liam McMillen