Momentum Continues To Build For Psyence As Local Venue Sells Out
Bethan Shuff || Leah Hamer || July 26th
Kez Liddle took to the stage of The Underground with only her sleek, black guitar by her side. A healthy sized crowd had gathered considering that it was Kez’s first proper gig. Her first couple of tracks were sung with a sort of childhood innocence and angelic voice, but track 3 hit me like a train. An effortless finger picking technique was followed by deep, rustic vocals that blew me away and made my jaw drop, literally; such a mature and dynamic voice for a girl so young at 17. Her songs told tales of falling in love, ‘don’t tell me there’s plenty more fish in the sea, I fall in love too easily’, simple but incredibly catchy lyrics – the gig was Friday; it’s now Tuesday and this line is still circling my brain over and over.
Behind the scenes, Arcadia have really been upping their game. They opened their set with a fun and hectic intro that glided into Tropic; a track they’d written the previous night together at Riff Factory. It’s a real summery track, even more so than Realisation and The Shore; it has that proper beach party vibe and Jake Ferchal’s licks just make you want to dance and Seb’s smooth psychedelic synth adds a cool and unusual undertone to the track. Since their last gig all together in Birmingham, the lads have really grown into themselves and found their sound as they’ve explored their abilities and adapted their tracks. If they rerecorded their debut EP, it wouldn’t even sound like the same songs anymore; they’ve managed to transform it completely. Highlights of the set included Transparency, ’95 and another heavier track that they, again, wrote last minute at Riff Factory the night before the gig, entitled Waste. Jake Ward has really pushed his vocals to the limit in this one and released his inner Kurt Cobain with his lyrics. James’ roaring drums accentuate the aggression behind the track whilst Sam’s gritty riffs and Seb’s bass lines flow through the chaos. Unfortunately, that was Sam Fieldhouse’s final gig with Arcadia; what a way to end the era.
I was once told a theory that when you have a song in your head, if you listen to it once, it will never go away. So as I.K.Y.K.I.K played in my mind as I stepped into the car, stepped out of the car, walked up to The Underground, brought a beer, and in the intervals in-between Kez and Arcadia, I eagerly anticipated Thieves Asylum’s performance. As individuals, each personality comes alive on stage- Joe is the confident and cool frontman, Alex is in a riff induced trance, James is eyeing up the crowd and thriving off their energy and Dan is lost in a hazy vortex of flying sticks and arms. Together they are slick and clean on every track, ever the professionals. Even when the crowd got rowdy, they didn’t flinch- the moshers could have gotten up on stage with the boys and they still would not have made any mistakes. Making errors is not in their nature…And you know what, I.K.Y.K.I.K is still in my head, perhaps it is the exception to the theory.
Deja Vega were a slight surprise for me, mainly because I misread their name as ‘DJ Vega’, and so when I spied three lads with guitars and a drum kit on stage instead of one guy with a deck and headphones, I was somewhat confused, and grateful. Within seconds it became clear why Deja Vega were on the bill for the evening- rambling guitar solos, gory bass lines, experimental screeches and waves with the soundboards- this was pure psychedelic, alt-rock drama. For the first few minutes, I questioned whether or not there was a vocalist in this trio or whether this would be an entirely instrumental set. Lyrics soon kicked in after some death-defying solo work, but strangely, they weren’t necessary. The talent of Deja Vega shone during these incredible intros and bridges- it was in these moments that the threesome showed their technical prowess.
In the underwater opium den Psyence took to the stage above the crowd of familiar faces. Psyence have a demanding presence regardless of what environment they are in, but when surrounded by Nepalese wall hangings and flashing lights- it illuminates their character and sound even more. Stephen Pye, Jamie Bellingham, Ben Nixon, Joe Walsh- these men are wise and caring crafters of music- they know how to mould a lyric and perfect a beat with imagination and creativity. Fresh out of the studio after recording their debut album with Sam Bloor, it is clear that all four of them were itching to return to the dirty grime of the stage floor once again. Sweat pours from them as they sacrifice their bodies to the performance, their dark riffs and popping synth spurring on the crowd to mosh and dance wildly. It was not a safe environment for claustrophobics, in order to enjoy this band- you have to endure some suffocation and bruising. Psyence are adored, not only for their glorious face melting tunes, but for their overwhelming love and support for our local music scene. This was made clear when they invited Alex Grocock to the stage for Chemicals For Breakfast- an exquisite collaboration of stupidly talented artists.