In 2018, Limerick trio Whenyoung have been quite the fans of Brighton. Having played here with Public Access TV back in February, as well as a terrific, packed-out show for The Great Escape at The Haunt, there’s been a lot of love for the band on the South Coast. “It’s good to be back in Brighton, we always love coming here” stated lead singer Aoife Power, “we didn’t get a chance to go for a swim this time though,” she continued. With an unfortunate clash with similar indie-pop buzz band Anteros playing at Sticky Mike’s, the room was only half full but, that aside, it’s hard to ignore the momentous propulsion the band are exhibiting. With doses of brilliantly addictive indie-pop, and Power’s heavenly vocals, Whenyoung are an absolute delight.
Support on the night came from Bristol’s Haze. Another in the line of pissed-off upstarts from Bristol (see IDLES and LICE), who were utterly magnificent. Riddled with anxiety and nervous energy, brand-new single ‘St. John’ – a brutal attack on today’s world leaders – is a ferocious blend of angry basslines and a surprisingly melodic rhythm section. Likewise, debut single ‘Ladz Ladz Ladz’ is a moody, disjointed track that showcases the vocal abilities of Will Harrison. With brilliant on-stage chemistry, and angry, vital tracks about important themes, Haze were an incredibly impressive force of good. This, along with support slots for Phobophobes and Pip Blom in the coming months, could prove to be the band’s breakout moment.
It might have been seen as a culture clash to have Haze support Whenyoung, a band mostly known for their sugary sweet indie-pop, yet over the last year Aoife Power has proven herself to be an excellent political songwriter. Take ‘The Others’, for example, a song she wrote the day after the Grenfell disaster. It’s got all the trademarks of their classically colourful pop but, lyrically, it’s a passionate and angry letter to those that let this happen. Additionally,‘Closer’, dedicated to World Mental Health Day, is an open and frank statement about struggles with mental health.
Of course on the surface Whenyoung have all the components to be the next indie-pop great, but they’re a far more technical and proficient band than many give them credit for. Not only does Power have all the makings to be a voice of her generation, but as a band they’ve got incredible chemistry. The trio clearly relish playing together in the live sphere and they’ve got the songs to back it up. Debut single ‘Pretty Pure’ receives arguably the biggest reaction of the night, but it’s final song and latest single ‘Given Up’ that is most impressive. With a gloriously captivating chorus that could be 2018’s best earworm, and a sense of euphoria building towards it, it’s one of the most entertaining moments of the night.
It was clear that this was just another stepping stone on Whenyoung’s journey to the big leagues. With new songs in abundance, too, with both ‘Blow Up the World’ – a slower, more brooding affair – and ‘Labour of Love’ sounding incredible, Whenyoung are looking more and more complete as a band. Having created quite brilliant pop songs, as well as being incredibly likeable, this was an evening of pure bliss. Let’s just hope they don’t clash with a similar buzz band the next time they’re in town.