w/ Old Forest
16th September 2012
An unfortunate injury to a band member sadly meant Hang The Bastard were unable to play XOYO this evening, leaving just two bands to share the stage. There has been more conjecture among underground pundits about the potential of Old Forest rather than their music: tonight’s performance did little to quell the excitement of the former, but raised some inevitable frustrations regarding the latter.
The south-west London three-piece grab strands from Seattle grunge and stoner rock with remarkable confidence, weaving them into a set of loud, down-tuned rock music, the proficiency of which belied the obviously tender ages of the band members. There can be no doubt that they have written some killer riffs and play them with intuitive composure, but it is not merely the fresh-facedness of the band that shows them to be a touch unfinished. It would be good to see them once they have taken possession of the prerequisite self assuredness to rock out, strum hard and loosen up. At present, it all makes for a rather stilted spectacle, and while their live sound is already formidable, it could just be spectacular with time.
Torche’s new album, ‘Harmonicraft’, tends very much towards the melodic side of the band’s sound. It is a brighter and less overtly riffed-up version of what some have felt the need to label, in abhorrent taste, ‘bubblegum stoner.’ The horror. However, such fuss has certainly played a part in wafting the band’s sweet yet heavy tones to some very lofty ears and there was a sense of expectation in XOYO. The venue was unusually busy for a Sunday night, thronging with an amusing blend of people who had presumably been told to be there by Zane Lowe and others who would not have needed any prompting to see this band play a genuine shore, or ditch.
Those who might have feared Torche’s newest material might be a case of ‘too much Grohl and not enough soul’ should, I imagine, have been assuaged by their blistering performance this evening. The songs from ‘Harmonicraft’ sound refreshingly heavy live – even the saccharine-sweet ‘Kicking’ had something of the night about it – while diehards were well served by a generous haul of older songs from ‘Meanderthal’ and their self-titled debut. This was a great set. It had the populism of the Foos alongside the pugilism of Floor (frontman Steve Brooks’ previous, highly recommended sludge metal band). And, support bands of the capital take note, they looked like they were having a great time.
Words: Martin Brown
Photos: Graham Berry