Maybe it was the spectacular hangover from Friday’s misadventures in the city. The fuzzy glow and a heavy head suited to the reverb wash which propped up the senses.
Or maybe it was something far more straightforward. There’s an inexplicable feeling when you know you’re discovering music which is so special it awakens that quickening of the pulse, the desires heightened, the imagination bursting with colour. The need to tell somebody. Anybody.
Edging closer to the small bustle of folk, feet from Korova‘s raspberry swathe of curtain and half-arsed faerylights, we’re straining our ears eager to dig deeper, to capture every bit of this magical new sound rippling with loops, echo and layer upon layer of intricate percussive patterns.
Close your eyes and you’d be hard pushed to discern quite what’s going down; all imaginary landscapes lush with autumnal textures and a steady trickling of instrumentation. And then there’s the voices.
At times crystal clear penetrating the thick gloop of sound, but most cyclical and overlapping weaving in and out of feathery bloom.
Close your eyes and you’d think you’re in the presence of a notable hype band, certainly one of Stateside significance, but then this couldn’t be further from the Hereford trio of Tom Cowcher, Sam Twidale and Jacob Silkin‘s existence.
A team of Liverpool music tech students, whose first gig was May 2009. It’s close to staggering how accomplished, how full their armoury seems already.
Interchanging instruments, fleet of foot, hotstepping over leads, pick-up-put-down guitars and pedals, drum sticks inserted into back pockets, Old Machine leads a hymnal charge as the voice wobbles, panging off the click drum and a cha-cha-chug of a six-string acoustic.
There’s a constant groove – Horizons Lined With Scars a particular toe-tapper – which the hoodied front row acknowledge by Jedi bows before their emperor. But my head’s too swimming to nod, and we’re whisked off down a mystical river, gently bumping over with the gush and smooth edges.
We’re carried away and the refrain of ‘Breathe in, breathe out,’ finds us unexpectedly singing along.
It’s a transportive moment and it’s a pleasure to listen.
Later that evening two bands vying for even more acclaim impress and disappoint in equal measure.
Egyptian Hip Hop are undeniably aware of their buzz, acting up with all the cool expected of the new kids on the block. Hiding behind scowls and floppy fringes always stay in vogue.
Problem is, this buzz doesn’t really do them any favours as they’re clearly still in the process of forming their sound; cherrypicking The Police‘s twanging basslines, a Casablancas growl and choppy art-school sonics it’s a veritable feast of everything and nothing.
Sure, there’s an undeniable melody at work – Rad Pitt has a delightful sparkle with a coda the Postal Service would be proud of while Heavenly employs an infectious, bubbling murmur – but it’s oddly the numerous instrumentals which seem to work best, more thunderous and raw than their attempts at more straightforward pop.
Pop is something the Soft Pack deal in expertly. There’s simply no escaping how instant and immediate their rock and roll scuzzball is. Fast, furious and exactly what it says on the tin.
Having, caught them in their infancy (then having recently jibbed their moniker The Muslims) at ATP in May, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the youngsters that opened tonight’s proceedings, where Bagheera are an expanding evolution of ideas, Soft Pack deliver the expected – it’s fine for now, but it’s hard to see where they go next.
As for Bagheera, with word they’re due to change name themselves (White Deer Park a reported favourite) the world is theirs for the taking.
The Soft Pack: Answer to Yourself