Writer Mark Roberts / Photographer Connor Pope
As I walk into the Hare and Hounds on Sunday evening, I am disappointed to see I am the third person to enter, but it’s unsurprising considering the Queen’s funeral is tomorrow and the country is in mass grief.
After saying hi to Brummie staple Mazzy Snape, one half of Side Step 9 who are DJing in between acts at this event (and pumping out some pure bangers might I add), I wait with anticipation for You Said Strange.
The band comes dressed in broody dark clothes, opening the night with some big dreamy psych riffs. The tones from the guitars and the bass are spot on and the psychedelic harmonies are pitch perfect. These Normandy lads are playing exceptionally well, which is a shame because the audience feels thin and a mile away.
The songs undulate between various styles, large walls of noise pierce through the room before falling into groove after groove. Not a note seems out of place, the big blooming chords fading into angular rhythms, descending into ghostly noise. Every aspect of sound has been carefully curated here and it’s as tight as pushing a marshmallow through a keyhole.
The aesthetic of the band juxtaposes with the psychedelic genre; this is psychedelia with post-punk characteristics. This is psych going in a new direction. The bassist thanks the crowd for being there, which has by now filled out somewhat, the humility in the words is honest and reflective.
These Normandy lads are very happy to be touring the UK.
On the last song, the chords give way to a cacophony of noise, a guitar stuttering in time, reverberations colliding off every wall before coming back to a groove and finishing on another soundscape. Which continues as You Said Strange walks off stage.
Night Beats come on shortly after and the first thing of note is that the lead singer’s hat is ridiculously cool. In fact, all of the members look super cool, as if they were born in a spaghetti western – and some of their songs sound like it too (or am I just reading too much into the bolero hat?).
The sound starts off rough, and clearly Night Beats know because they are near constantly requesting adjustments to their monitors between songs. About half way through the set the sound becomes clearer, which is nice. I really like hearing the vocalist.
The guitar snaps around with spring reverb on it, giving it that space-shotgun effect, the bassist glides up and down the neck and the drummer holds it together with true precision.
This is classic psychedelia, blues drenched and sun-kissed. I am transported to a place where cowboys are breaking through the fourth wall, the solos are stunning, full of personality, the tones are iconic and fitting, and the pace of the band is ballsy.
The drums are close to the ground, I don’t quite understand how they can be that low, surely the drummer is sitting on the floor at this point, and yet his beats are fat and timely. They push the music through the speakers, allowing it to run along with the tunes.
Night Beats feel somewhat revivalist in their approach and normally I have a bit of an issue with bands that sound like they could be from another era, but Night Beats are so effective at what they do, so sonically perfect, I just can’t fault it.
As the night finishes, I think to myself how amazing a gig this was considering that it was less than half full.
I hope to see both bands in the future; You Said Strange are going places, and Night Beats are a tour du force. A bunch of Kings to make you less upset about the Queen.
For more music from Night Beats go to: www.thenightbeats.us
For more gigs at the Hare and Hounds Kings Heath go to: www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk