Gaw’d bless the festival season; a melting pot of music, minds and inherited madness, where you can end up with more torn clothing and scribbled notes than any helpful recollection. Apparently I was at Latitude.
But following one of the more memorable moments from this year’s Moseley Folk, Rob Hadley suggested The Vryll Society – after spending three days camped out in festival’s the photo pit. A quick Spotify cross reference gave me enough from the Liverpudlian ‘space rockers’ to get me on board the psychedelic express, before a well timed tour brought them back to the city, courtesy of Birmingham Promoters, on the second date of their autumn adventure. How thoughtful.
The Vryll Society’s t’interweb triptych, made up of two taster releases from Deltasonic Records – ‘Beautiful Faces’, ‘Deep Blue Skies’ – and a morsel of hope from their upcoming Pangea EP, ‘Air’, was superb. Is superb. It’s been on near solid repeat since Rob’s fateful referral.
And as recommendation turned into request, and request turned into review, I am standing at the back of The Sunflower Lounge watching the night’s first local support, Institutes, belt out their deeper side of raw. The notes I make include ‘Led Zeppelin’ and ‘Thom Yorke scream’; this will be one band I’ll hunt down again.
Less can be said for Semantics, the second support, who took the ferocious good intentions from their predecessor and turned it down from eleven. They looked great, like Terry Hall as an understudy to a Reservoir Dog, but the Ian Curtis drone and lack of punch was a case of wrong place wrong time for me (and possibly wrong levels). I’ll give both bands this though – they stuck around, front and centre, for each other and the headliners. Etiquette gold stars all round.
The Vryll Society open with ‘Beautiful Faces’, a fine five minute introduction to the ‘liquid jams and crafted song writing’ that their label presents. I was skeptical that what I had been listening to (and listening to) could be performed as well on stage, but it is; lead singer, Michael Ellis, pitching near perfect vocals on the frayed edges of a rising wall of sound. Fu*king awesome. And right there, less than ten feet away.
My personal favourite, ‘Air’ – the sneaky peak preview of the EP to come – is up next, dragging a dark psychedelic cloud across the room and letting it throb like a sponge; before ‘Great Whites Fin’ slows down the shoegaze into some bast*rd lovechild of 60’s homage. Think Sabbath’s ‘Planet Caravan’ meets The Rapture’s ‘Infatuation’ whilst being assaulted by the cymbals from The Velvet Underground’s ‘Ocean’.
The tempo turns to heartbeat for ‘Coshh’, another offering from the impending Pangea, and even the tour manager is dancing – as the set dutifully marches through the EP’s other 50% in relatively quick succession. But by the time we reach the latter part of ‘The Egg’, my interest is waning; there’s only so much mescaline intent I can stomach without a firm song to grab hold of.
Maybe I’m getting old, maybe it’s a week night, maybe blotter acid just isn’t what it used to be, but the looser parts of tonight are making me shift a little from one leg to another. But they carry it on stage, even in the intimate confines of an out of town basement, behind long lens guitars and a Jagger precocity; The Vryll Society can polish their mayhem to a lustrous shine.
Then back to the cherry – as the debut single, ‘Deep Blue Skies’, rounds of the evening; Michael Ellis making a somewhat dramatic exit through the middle of the crowd and final song. No encore tonight then.
But back on the road for the rest of the month there will be at least another twelve chances to catch The Vryll Society before December, and with their Pangea EP scheduled for a late October release (on the day after my birthday; again, how thoughtful) I’d imagine a few more in the New Year. It’s a chance you should take, as was suggested to us; the recorded tracks already out there being enough to explain why.
And whilst tonight’s live set, whilst clearly exceptional in parts, had its less ball grabbing moments – the true blue tough paper moment for The Vryll Society will come no doubt come in an album. A moment of sink, swim or psychedelic soar we hope they’ll release on the run up to festival season 2016.
For more on The Vryll Society, visit https://www.facebook.com/TheVryllSociety
For more from The Sunflower Lounge, visit http://thesunflowerlounge.com/
For more from Deltasonic Records, visit http://deltasonicrecords.co.uk/
For more from Birmingham Promoters, visit http://birminghampromoters.com/