Thursday, November 12, 2015

LA Priest, PIXX, Field Harmonics. Live at the Hare and Hounds, 11/11/15 Review

First of all a word of warning, there is a group of kids who hang around the hare and hounds and throw eggs at punters while swearing at them. That sounds a bit scary but their aim is so hilariously bad that we didn't notice they were aimed at us until after about 5 had been thrown. Something to be aware of if you visit kings heath. Nothing was going to spoil the excitement of this show though.
In the small room the first act on was Field Harmonics, a duo from Wolverhampton. They have a set up of a few keyboards and mics. Much like Grimes, or Crystal castles, their music draws a lot  from 80's synth pop but they've taken that basic concept and made something entirely new and engrossing out of it. By sampling teir own vocals and looping synth tracks they create a sound that is huge, and is easy to immerse yourself in. Their new single 'Girls'  is a great example of what's so good about them, for all the technology and experimentation, Field Harmonics can still pull out great pop songs. (7.2/10)

After that was PIXX, who are newly signed to 4AD records. 4AD is most well known for signing Grimes and The Cocteau Twins. I think PIXX will fit on their current roster very nicely. They are probably the most 2015 band I've ever seen on stage. From their singer's flashy style, the fact that they use drum pads instead of drums, and don't really care about genre constraints. Their sound is very minimalist, not that far off from The XX or 2:54. Gently picked guitar, soft beats and keyboard strokes, all give PIXX a very woozy, relaxed sound. After the huge sound of Field Harmonics, PIXX were a lot more chilled out, but its great music to lose yourself in. (7.2)

La Priest (aka Sam Dust) is one of the coolest guys I've ever met. Rather than a tour bus, he gets about in an old Mercedes. He builds his own instruments, and is the only guy I've ever met who owns more than one pair of velvet trousers. The stage was laid out from one end to the other with keyboards, synths, and a light up box, with wires and leads coming out of it. The lighting was a procession of light-bulbs and foil shades that lit up one by one, from one end and then started again. Sam hid under his long hair, crouching down, while his keyboards and synths made this amazing funky noise. I was standing right next to the speakers for this show, so I got a blast of air in my face from the bass. La Priest is a master of multitasking. Playing a bit of guitar, while twiddling a few knobs and playing little keyboard melodies, and also engaging the audience and singing. He got his breakthrough track 'Oino' out of the way early. If you've not heard it, the song is a great mix of funk, almost reggae rhythms and a catchy chorus. La Priest's music takes a lot from the past. He mixes funk, soul, pop and electronica. While he does throwback to the past. It's all so bonkers that it could only be from the present.
The real highlight was when Sam asked for some backing dancers and I got pushed on stage. I got to throw shapes on stage with two other guys, in front of a packed Hare and Hounds crowd. It was only for one song but it was still a fantastic experience. Once I was off stage, the show was still amazing. Sam showed off his new tea towel that a fan had made for him and responded to my heckle that it could be his second album cover. Replica tea towels will, be on sale shortly while the design is currently on tote bags.
The other song that really sticks out in my memory is the last one he played. 'Learning to love'  is a fantastically crazy mix of slap bass, synths and clicky beats. It's still playing in my head now.  There was also some messing around, where he passed the mic to us lot and sampled our voices, for a sort of extended vocal sample jam. After the show Sam was keen to meet every one who'd come to see  him. One couple had travelled as far as Ireland and really wanted a photo. Sam was happy to sign CD's and the poster that I had nicked. He drew a snail on my CD cover and did his signature as huge as he could. On the poster he drew a duck with tank tracks, and 'James is a good eggy'. Sam was really happy to answer questions, and his weird signatures hint at a odd sense of humour, but also a desire to make a connection with his fans.
I loved this show, easily one of the best gigs I've ever been too. (9/10)


Note about photography.
It was not my intention to have my photographs look as if they were taken on some cheap lomograph camera. I had to use flash and black and white settings to drown out the red lights for most of these shots. I got some cool pics, but the washed out look was totally by accident.

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