By: Amy Grace
24 September, 2017, 16:40
Photos: Jessica Bartolini
I began my week (and my 5 day gig bender) by heading down to the Exchange for a night drenched in grunge, math rock and heavy riffs.
Opening the night were Bath based trio Stone Cold Fiction, playing a swampy-blues rock and roll filled set. Members Stephen, Matt and Alex delivered a gut wrenching set filled with flairs of math rock, Sabbath-inspired riffs and rough guitar solos. Songs such as ‘Flowers’ which featured a tangled drum signature, fuzzy bass and headbanging guitar riffs were no doubt moshpit material.
Following their monstrous sound was four-piece alt-psych-rock-reverblicious-shoegaze stomping YOUTH. If ever there were a genre I’m pretty certain these guys would be the faces of it. Surging into their first number in an animated manner, singer/guitarist Joshua Milton howled the lyrics whilst rhythm guitarist and chief shoegaze source Jack Barratt used an E-bow (electronic bow used for sustain!) to create flexed Velvet Underground vibes. Along with feedback drenched finishes from Tom Hennessey on bass and moody drumming from Ben Miller, YOUTH performed a series of misty reverb filled tunes. Smashing through their set with no warning, featuring songs such as ‘Breath’ tinged with dark and moody sounds with airs of Nai Harvest. YOUTH are your answer to reverb soaked Sundays and feedback that will make your feet vibrate.
The main event for the night were aesthetically cool grunge-heavy trio Sœur. With their otherworldly blend of dual vocals, snippets of math rock influences and punchy riffs, Sœur were mesmerisingly immense. Consisting of Tina Maynard on guitar, Anya Pulver also on guitar – at times sounding as though she was playing bass as a result of her waveringly absurd pedal board. Holding their tight sound together is former Maybeshewill drummer James Collins, providing voltage and might.
The night oozed with grunged soaked pop songs and enchanting vocals starting with a low delicate riff gradually building more momentum with crashing drums. ‘Put You On’ set the scene for what was to become a bold night of energetic songs. Hauntingly pleasing tune ‘No Fire’ then followed, with a creeping riff and fluctuated time signatures. It was at this point I wrote in my notes ‘I think I’ve gone deaf’.
Teasing ensued with Tina and Anya grabbing the audience’s attention with serene lullaby vocals and soft guitar licks bringing the tone down to a mellow mood before cranking things up a notch. Off beat drums, heavy rock riffs and lusty vocals instantly picking the mood. ‘Doesn’t, Does It?’ was an attention grabbing, gutsy number which summarised Sœur’s music style.
Thundering into the next number, ‘Pass Out’ had repeating infectious riffs and heavenly overriding vocals. The flurry of lyrics ricocheting back and forth between Anya and Tina was electrifying, delivering serious girl power attitude. Bewitching vocals, concentrated drum beats and glimmers of a math rock inspired interval at the end which then picked up in tempo. Once again I am fooled, getting ready to applaud thinking it’s the end of the song, only for it to be launched into a stratospheric peak leaving me dizzy. Flourishes of feedback then came on ‘Just Yet’ followed by ‘Whole Me’, a tight Jefferson Airplane meets Haim vibe with hair flips in unison from both Anya and Tina, I’m still waiting on James to join in on this trend.
Their latest single, ‘Left Living’, then came without warning, all three bouncing into gear without missing a beat. A certified head banger with airs of neo-grunge and nu-metal thrown into the mix along with a climbing riff, tantalising the audience. Ending with the final track from their debut EP, ‘Slow Days’ in the perfect blend of melancholic grunge (is this a sub-genre? If not, it totally should be) and addictive lyrics such as ‘what separates us’. Sœur’s performance was summed up beautifully by a conversation I overheard from two teenage girls, one saying to the other “that makes me want to be in a band.”
Effortlessly cool and charming, along with their kick-ass attitude, catchy tunes and filthy riffs, Sœur are quickly amassing a substantial fan base. Their debut EP What Separates Us is currently available online and they’ll next be playing in Bristol at The Exchange on 29th October supporting The Guru Guru. Be prepared for hair flip central.