On a night that sees the headline act stroll onto the stage nearly an hour later than scheduled, a messy, strange, confusing evening with Julian Casablancas and The Voidz eventually tapers away leaving nothing but a faint sense of disappointment behind at Concorde 2.
Support came from Promiseland, an artist who is genuinely one of the weirdest, baffling, and most eye-catching acts to grace a Brighton stage this year. Barely on stage except to press play on a series of almost-industrial techno beats, the Australian-via-New Yorker instead balances on crowd members, halfway up a wall, or rubs through the entire venue. “There’s a whole other room back here” he shouts as he got to the smoking section during one track, during another he simply wanders backstage and holds what seems like an entire conversation, on mic, while a row of dazed faces glance at each other. This is, sadly, the most exciting point of the night.
Seeing an undeniable one-time icon like Casablancas play to a venue this size, barely even a third full, is a strange experience. Perhaps that explains the late arrival, but it cannot excuse a set that seemed woefully, almost obstinately, difficult. The Voidz play a particular brand of experimental rock, but that experimentation seems to be extended to the sound levels tonight. Rather than building something together, there instead seems to be a competition by each band member to be louder than the next. Except Casablancas who, even by his standard, finds his vocals buried so low in the mix that it is impossible to pick out a single word.
Some songs work better than others. ‘One Of The Ones’ and ‘QYURRUS’ still contain a ramshackle charm, the latter sounding like Husky Loops wandering down an even more adventurous track. Far too much of the magic and mystery of their experimentation is tossed away on a sea of poor sound, meaning that much of the intricacy of their sound just does not translate – the gentle ‘Think Before You Drink’ being drowned by deafening keyboards halfway through being the perfect example.
Though a small portion of the crowd threw themselves into it fully, the majority of the crowd can only stand and stare for large segments of the night as it descends into vague noodling. There is enough talent on stage to ensure that a few moments hit the mark, but in truth, it is only a few moments. For far too much of a (very) expensive night out, it all just feels like a terrible mess.