Where: Drummonds, Worcester, UK.
When: Wednesday 18th February 2015.
Promoter: Faithful City Shows.
The gig started at 7.30pm, but as my time keeping wasn’t up to scratch, I didn’t arrive until 9pm. That meant I missed two bands, Gooche and Guerrilla Monsoon (sorry guys!). This, combined with a cash-only bar, meant my evening wasn’t off to a great start. The good news is that things rapidly improved from that point onwards.
Holy took to the stage just after 9pm. This Worcester-based quartet play a type of indie rock that somehow stirs up images of Made in Chelsea, Kings of Leon, Bob Dylan, Stone Roses and The Beatles in all the right ways. Holy’s sound is a melodic, often psychedelically busy, cacophony of sweeping, effects-layden indie rock that shows off the band’s ability to craft technically achieved, layered tracks, with catchy hooks. They’re tight too. So tight in fact that it’s hard to believe that Holy are relatively new to the music scene having only formed in April 2014. Despite being ‘the new kids on the block’ the guys in Holy have an impressive number of UK shows under their belts, having played roughly 30 gigs in the Midlands, Birmingham and London. That explains how they play so well together after such a short time, then.
Holy’s quartet is made up of two guitarists, Dan Solomon and Aaron Whittaker (with the latter also providing backing vocals and playing the keyboard), Chris Jeffries, the drummer, and bassist and frontman Harry Payne. Complete with myriad effects pedals and hippy-coloured scarfs draped over their equipment, Holy’s music is as much about style as it is substance, though both are delivered in equal measure. There’s a cool aloofness to Holy’s image which mirrors their slightly mainstream-edged alternative indie rock, and whilst this isn’t a bad thing as it’s undoubtedly part of the act, it is a shame that crowd interaction is kept to a bare minimum during their half hour set. This is perhaps the only area, on reflection, that Holy might need to improve in; connecting with the crowd on a personal level beyond the music during their performance. That said, this won’t be needed when (not if) they’re playing bigger venues; something that won’t be too far away in the future for them, judging by the musical skills showcased tonight.
There were no such performance issues for River Jumpers on the night though. Contrasting starkly with Holy’s trippy indie rock, and therefore completing an interesting and eclective billing for latecomers like me, River Jumpers are a loud, fast, meolodic, punk rock band from Brighton that sound like Set Your Goals mixed with The Swellers. Guitarist and lead singer Nicholas Davis was particularly energetic, showing up the slightly more docile, but no less talented, band members (Paul Perity, James Hunt, and Max Wingell). It was when Max the drummer encountered some brief technical issues, however, that Nicholas’ skills in crowd engagement really shone through. At first the melodic punk that River Jumpers play sounds a little generic, but it’s hard to spend too much time thinking about how you’ve heard bands and songs like this before, when the music is played so faultlessly. And most importantly River Jumpers’ songs are really bloody catchy.
River Jumpers’ set was a relentless blitz of fast-paced punk songs, with a new and slightly heavier song that you couldn’t help but nod your head along to thrown in, and a closing anthem that finished the night on a high. With their flawless delivery and crowd interaction (led mostly by Nicholas), the only disappointment for me was the fact that I couldn’t take River Jumpers home; I don’t own a record player and they only had vinyls for sale. River Jumpers are, without doubt, a band I’d recommend seeing both for the first time or again. The years of touring experience, forged both within the UK and in Europe, that River Jumpers have to fall back on really shows through in their polished performance and delivery. You’d do well to catch them the next time they’re in a town or city near you, and if they need a break for technical issues then too, you might find out for yourself which poor member was forgotten about and left without a passport on the not-home side of the Channel.
As for the show itself, things were maybe a touch too loud for such a small venue, but otherwise the sound production was top notch. There was also a great turnout for this local promoter’s first show (under the name of Faithful City Shows, anyway), and with big things planned for the future, this was nothing short of a triumphant and promising fresh start for Worcester’s alternative music scene.
And at £3 (pre-booked; £5 on the door) it was an absolute bargain too. Let’s hope these quality shows continue for a long time.
Photography by Becky Winter Photography and used with permission. Poster used with permission from Faithful City Shows.
Check out Faithful City Shows at https://www.facebook.com/faithfulcityshows