As with any gig of this stature, it’s commonplace for there to be hesitant and shy murmurs within the crowd prior to when the local support make the transition from soundcheck mode to performance mode. However, once Bristol’s Dirt (8) (The artist formally known as Bloodrag) kick into their set with a cartilage rattling bassline, it’s clear they are among instant friends tonight. The group live up to their namesake fully, providing filthy and toxic high pressure sludge infused grunge that boils with youthful apathy and shivering energy. Whilst this may suggest a level of passive indifference, theres a strong sense of delicate refinement in their sound.
Navigating through testimonials that explore the confusion of love and life, the group physically and sonically tell their tales atop a mountain of cragged, sandblasted riffs and dense reverb. Jarring, yet never forcibly intimidatingly aggressive or confrontational, Dirt straddle the line between anger and mental fatigue with a sound that’s as fantastically dense as it is youthfully energetic.
Whilst Dirt may have flooded the room with thick and concentrated grunge, FES (9) (The artist formally known as Flat Earth Society) provide a sound that’s far more airy, dainty and fluid. Much akin to tonight’s headliners, FES delightfully yet wholesomely flirt with left field progression, romanticising thoughts of twinkling and fluid math rock. With a distanced atheistic comparable with pop punk, yet being a far cry from the insipid creative stagnation associated with the current state of the aforementioned scene, FES are a wonderful breath of fresh air tonight.
Tracks from their most recent EP Lunar are performed with both finesse and excitable, yet tasteful, hyperactivity. Fresh, fluid and wonderfully energetic, the there’s a smile inducing level of adolescent wonder in their innovative and brilliant sound tonight, with the sunny and swinging ‘Inside Out’ showcasing their sugary sweet alternative pop in fantastic form. FES present a sound tonight that’s loose yet calculating, one that jovially flows between tones and time signatures, before gracefully flowing into the sea of smiles that is the crowd stood before them. A brilliant demonstration of glucose laced math pop from a band that is clearly destined for massive things.
With such an excitable, sold out crowd within this room, it’s almost impossible to believe that this is Orchards (9) (We’re certain they’ve always been called Orchards) debut headline run. Opening with the spell binding fretwork and exotic aura of ‘Honey’, it immediately becomes evident that Orchards have deeply considered their approach for this run of dates. Despite being heralded as the future trendsetters of alternative math tinged pop for quite some time now, Orchards have surpassed all the expectations placed upon them for this headline run. Truly, it’s a privilege to see a band of such talents perform such an incredible set as this.
Tracks from their debut EP Losers/Lovers shimmer with polish and refined animation tonight, with the springtime buzz of ‘Be Here’ and ‘Drama King’ draping the room in ropes of sugarcoated math pop. Despite this string of dates standing as the groups first headline run, Orchards display a level of tasteful confidence and skill that’s far beyond their respective age as a collective. With this show and respective tour, it seems Orchards have established their own sense of fluidity live, with each track gracefully transitioning into the next with beauty and without hindrance. The child like innocent and wonder of ‘Peggy’ dives into the technicolor splendour of ‘Be Here’, with Orchards’ jovial and honey soaked take on alternative math pop being constantly and consistently met with a response of pure joy.
Their two latest tracks, ‘Mature Me’ and ‘Young’ sound simply towering and life affirming tonight, with such tracks showcasing Orchard’s abilities to enhance their already progressive and left field ethos and ideology. However, the fashion in which the group enliven musical progression in pop sensibilities is unparalleled. Everyone in attendance, including the band themselves seem lost in a wondrous trance, with vocalist Lucy Evans treating the entire room as her own personal stage.
As Orchards close with the subtropical bounce of ‘Luv U 2’, one can only wonder what venues this group will be performing in on their next headline run. However, judging from this magnificent set, this is most likely the last time the band will be seeing the interiors of more cosier venues such as this. A phenomenal set from a band that is leading the way for progressive innovation within contemporary pop. Honestly, most artists could only dream of possessing a modicum of the talent and stage presence that Orchards have demonstrated tonight.