Since catching a raucous opening set in their native Barcelona at Primavera Sound Festival, I’ve been relatively hooked on Holy Bouncer’s fusion of surf and garage rock. Since last summer, however, they’ve released their second album, the eponymous Holy Bouncer, and it’s sparked an evolution of the band. Gone are the sleazy guitar lines and strident rhythm section, instead something reminiscent of groovy psychedelia arose. Their headline showcase at Brighton’s The Hope & Ruin, which kicked off their five-date stretch across the UK, was an amalgamation of both sides of the band which proved to be a thrilling, exciting, and wholly impressive exhibition of one of Spain’s finest bands.
Support on the night came from Brighton quartet, Holyglam, who have been building up a head of steam across the South Coast and in the capital with their Fugazi-influenced post-punk. A band that mix heavy metal riffs with a punky sensibility, their set proved to be an exceptional fusion of ideas. Better, in my opinion, when they’re slightly more melodic, which developed as the set reached its climax, it’s clear that Holyglam’s main appeal lies with frontman Kevin Lennon’s anxiety-riddled performance. An incredibly captivating performer, who twitched and strutted across The Hope & Ruin stage with a sense of ease, he’s vocally reminiscent of early Ozzy Osbourne meets Brian Jonhson’s vocal euphoria.
Initially expecting a high-octane performance that would inevitably leave sweat dripping from the ceiling, I was delighted to see Holy Bouncer had switched to a subtler fusion of psych. ‘Mamihlapinatapai’, from their new album Holy Bouncer, for example, is a beautifully sweeping slice of psych that filled the small room with an atmospheric haze. On these more ambient cuts, lead singer Jordi Figueras channels Alex Turner’s crooning personality that he embodied on Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino. A bubbly, unique presence, Figueras is an outstanding frontman with charm in abundance.
Later on, though, the band change tact to deliver some of their more rasping cuts from their debut record. ‘Hippie Girl Lover’, in particular, which sees the band’s old guitarist join them on stage, is a stewing rock and roll classic that slowly builds into a thrilling selection of brilliant bass and exotic guitar lines. Sometimes in venues as small as this, bands can get lost in each other, but here every member is a striking presence. From start to finish, it was a thrilling ride of psych, garage and lounge rock.
One of their final and most impressive songs, ‘Anticipation’, however, evokes the stoner-rock of Primal Scream, who the band have supported, and The Rolling Stone’s ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. A grooving, wavy piece of slacker rock, it’s a foot stomping ride that sees each member of the band collide for a terrific wall of sound at its finale. A band with influences ranging from the 60s to now, and the confidence and talent to pull it off, Holy Bouncer are a diverse delight.