Words by Lydia Fitzer / Pics by Paul Reynolds
Don’t you just love a bargain? On Saturday night, Birmingham was treated to a five-for-the-price-of-one indie extravaganza. This wasn’t a discount bin situation, though. This was more of a ‘Hotel Chocolat is having a sale’ experience. You want quality? You want creativity? You want it served in a charming venue locally owned by lovely people? Of course you do.
The Clause were the first band of the night, and for me they were the biggest highlight. Distinctive, original, playful, with a frontman of the old-school allure variety (otherwise known as Pearce McMenamin. No wonder there were so many girls in the audience). Their subject matter is heavy but relatable, and their sound is punchy as a boxer’s jab.
The Clause’s music is constructed masterfully enough that I’d assumed them to be older. Imagine my surprise when I realised they’re in their late teens. I actually couldn’t be happier. I mean, if they’re this good now, imagine how great they’ll be in a few years.
They opened with ‘Tokyo’ and tons of stage presence; it was a cracking performance of one of my favourite songs of theirs. I slightly regretted the absence of its voiceover opening, though. The recorded version starts with a tense instrumental build-up and a serious female newsreader voice: “A sudden epidemic originating in the Midlands is being described as the biggest nightlife craze seen in years… a craze called Tokyo.” Go listen to it right now. Feel the atmospheric awesomeness wash over you. You’re welcome.
My favourite moment of The Clause’s set was their performance of ‘In My Element’. It was all the more enjoyable because the song is unrecorded, meaning hearing it live was like unwrapping the first gift under the Christmas tree. The opening sound was a synth-style bass line – unusual for The Clause, I think. Then… what else but the Pink Panther theme?! Played by the effortlessly cool Liam Deakin (guitar) and Jonny Fyffe (bass, backing vocals) in an endlessly cool way. The melody morphed into one of their own creation; the crowd leapt, energised and enthralled, to a beat that would make any rinky-dink panther dance.
Next to the stage were Candid, opening with their oldest release ‘Moving On’. They filled the stage with confidence and beauty (check out the tresses on bassist Sam Baines), giving buckets of performance skill. Rob Latimer (vocals, guitar) channelled passion and force with an expression of sheer musical bliss. Dan Latimer (lead guitar) didn’t give as much movement as his brother Rob, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t delightful to watch – he played immaculately, and had a cheeky smile which was totally infectious.
Candid ended their set with ‘Lay Me Down’ – a rapid crashing instrumental with a vocal melody that you could sink into. The sound built into a tsunami before each chorus, sending the whole audience into a craze; they jumped, they moshed. Hyperactive teenagers hurled themselves onto the walls and ground, all spatial awareness shaken from their bodies (the gig was open to ages 14+). Rob opened his lips and unleashed the final note – an incredible thing which lasted for about ten years. The guy has a serious set of pipes.
The time had come to unveil the “top-secret supergroup” that Riscas had been toting on social media. Are you ready? “My name is Wolfgang Harte… and this is my band!” Hello and welcome to the Wolfgang experience. He opened with ‘Old Bird’, a song written for his mum, filling the room with a vibrating voice.
The stage was packed with talented instrumentalists. Harte mentioned that their first rehearsal together had been a mere four hours prior to the gig; they gave an impressive performance with this considered. I would say, though, that they hadn’t quite found their sound. Harte has a unique voice and it’ll take practice to shape the instrumental around him to best effect.
This is an exciting project with profoundness at its core. Wolfgang Harte started writing songs during a particularly difficult time in his life, and eventually realised that he wanted to start performing them. His friends agreed to help, et voilà! You might see the man popping up on the music scene in various cities through the rest of May – keep your eyes peeled.
As Paris Youth Foundation took the stage, a flock of fans waded to the front of the crowd to greet them. They opened with ‘If You Wanna’, one of their slightly older songs; it’s full of signature contrasting floaty and heavy layers. The most notable trait is Kevin Potter’s remarkably gentle voice. It’s soft as a pillow. Potter gave an intriguing performance style, unforced and unusual; at times he fluttered his palms like a bird in flight.
You could drift away into Paris Youth Foundation’s music. They produce a lot of arm-wavers, of which ‘London’ is probably the strongest. Even the most enthusiastic moshers of the crowd took a moment to sway in the sentiment. ‘London’ is an earnest love song. Hearing it feels like looking into the stars and searching for a lover’s face.
Potter made a start singing ‘Losing Your Love’, but barely uttered a syllable of the first verse. He didn’t need to – the crowd sang it on his behalf. With every chorus the front of the crowd crashed into a mosh pit (I mentioned that the gig was open to ages 14+ and the enthusiasm the younger crowd had for moshing was unbelievable. I never would’ve thought I’d see so many mosh pits outside of the metalcore scene). They finished off with ‘Missing the Mark’, featuring girls towering on their friends’ shoulders and even a spot of crowdsurfing.
Finally, it was time for Riscas. They strolled onto stage to the sound of lazy guitar and deafening applause, then sailed into ‘Talk Your Mind’. They bopped around the stage during the intro, and flew into the first verse with legs made of springs. Riscas have a layered sound that never stops for breath, and cruises like a cyclist in the summer.
George Maycock (vocals, guitar) worked the crowd into a frenzy – “Come on, come on, come on!” By the time they reached ‘Right Kinda Day’, the crowd was bursting with excitement like cola bubbles; what better mood to introduce their most popular song? ‘Panic Like Tom’ was their debut single, and had a big ol’ heap of success. It really is a work of brilliance. Listening to it makes me feel stretched across time.
Riscas ended their set with ’10:42’. Flashing lights let you know, in case you didn’t already, that this was A PARTAY! A horde of fans clambered onto stage and lived their best lives. The band released huge sliding riffs, building the biggest noise of the night; this was Riscas’ largest hometown gig so far, and those boys did Birmingham proud.
Riscas @ The Castle & Falcon 12.05.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on Riscas, visit www.riscasofficial.com
Paris Youth Foundation – supporting Riscas @ The Castle & Falcon 12.05.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on Paris Youth Foundation, visit www.parisyouthfoundation.com
Candid – supporting Riscas @ The Castle & Falcon 12.05.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on Candid, visit www.facebook.com/candidcoventry
The Clause – supporting Riscas @ The Castle & Falcon 12.05.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more on The Clause, visit www.soundcloud.com/theclause
Wolfgang Harte – supporting Riscas @ The Castle & Falcon 12.05.18 / Paul Reynolds
For more from Hey Honey, visit www.facebook.com/HeyHoneyUK
For more from Sonic Gun, including further event listings, visit www.facebook.com/sonicgunconcerts
For more on The Castle & Falcon, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.castleandfalcon.com